POSTED ON MAY 6, 2009:
That Time of Year
Mayfest preparation in full swing for weekend celebration of art, art and more art
Who, What, Where. The visual and market artists set up shop along Main Street between Third and Sixth. The names and media of the artists are available at tulsamayfest.org.
With all the music, beer and fried fair food, it's easy to forget what Mayfest is all about: art.
Tulsa International Mayfest, an annual event since 1972, attracts hundreds of artists from all across the country each year and quite a few from Tulsa.
The festival takes place in downtown Tulsa, on Main Street between Third and Sixth, on the Green between Third Street and Boston Avenue and on Fourth Street between Main and Boston.
Mayfest began as a celebration of the Junior League of Tulsa's 50th anniversary. To celebrate, the league wanted to give something back to the community and, upon realizing that its anniversary coincided with the City of Tulsa's and the now defunct (and replaced by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra) Tulsa Philharmonic's, the group proposed a three-way co-sponsored arts festival, to be called Jubilee '73.
In 1974 the Junior League turned the festival over to Downtown Tulsa Unlimited and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. In 1978 it was given the name "Mayfest."
Since then, the festival has done nothing but grow, attracting 350,000 visitors to downtown Tulsa each year. An economic impact study conducted in 2006 and released by the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates that the festival has an annual economic impact of $5.7 million.
The festival, which runs from May 14 to 17, has not only attracted headlining musical acts Sister Hazel and the Old '97s, but also more than 800 artists and craftsman.
Of those, 125 are visual artists from across the country who work in virtually all media, from clay to wood, oil paint to watercolor, jewelry and more. Included in those are the Mayfest Market artists, comprised of artists and craftsman selling such work as toys, folk art, calligraphy, etc. The visual and market artists set up shop along Main Street between Third and Sixth. The names and media of the artists are available at tulsamayfest.org.
The Invitational Gallery is comprised of the work of about 100 local artists who have undergone the same rigorous, anonymous jurying process as the visual artists. The Invitational Gallery was incorporated into the festival in 1982 with 35 local artists exhibiting work in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Gallery.
"The gallery was created to attract festival goers that were interested in gallery-quality art and to showcase top quality artists from Tulsa and the surrounding region. This added to Mayfest's reputation as being an art festival, not just any outdoor festival," said DTU's Vice President of Promotions and Communications Heather Pingry.
"The Invitational Gallery artists are invited to show their work. The invitation list is created by Mayfest board members and members of the local art community, such as gallery owners, museum curators, etc.," said Pingry.
Mayfest also invites local youth, area students in grades K-12, to showcase work in the Tulsa PAC Gallery. The work of more than 500 students will be on display this year.
In addition, Center Gallery artists, clients at The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, are invited to submit a piece of art to be juried for inclusion in that gallery, which will include 50 pieces of art, in the Park Center building.
New in 2009 is the Mayfest Exhibition of College Artists, which will showcase 50 pieces of art created by area college students in the First Place Tower lobby.
Pingry said Mayfest does not bring in revenue from most of the art sold at Mayfest.
"The only area which we take a commission on is pieces in the Invitational Gallery, where Mayfest takes a 30 percent commission," she said.
The Samson Plaza, near the Invitational Gallery, will host the Creative Culture Courtyard, a New York City-inspired center for creative, interactive performance and visual arts offerings, such as human art installation, dancing butterflies, body art, chalk art, poetry and drumming. Patrons can paint on wood pieces or perform in the live performance area. The Creative Culture Courtyard is open Friday from 4-8pm and Saturday from 11am to 8pm.
Performing artists at the event include musicians, dancers and other performers. A large portion of the music performed falls in the alternative, rock and country genres, but there will be some jazz representation as well. Also, Grace Ann Productions presents a vocal performance Thursday night on the Main Stage on the Green.
Rhythmic Notions, Moore's Dance Studio, The Pettibone Dancers and Oklahoma Performing Arts Inc. present dance performances on Friday, and the Nancy Clarke School of Dance and Patti Parish Dance Company perform Saturday.
Read more about Mayfest's musical offerings in next week's issue or check the Web site for a complete schedule.
Festival hours are May 14-16 from 11am and 11pm and May 17 from 11am to 6pm. The artists' booths will be open from 11am to 8pm Thursday through Saturday and 11am to 6pm on Sunday. The invitational gallery will be open Thursday and Saturday from 11am to 6pm, Friday from 11am to 8pm and Sunday from 11am to 3pm. For Youth, College and Center Gallery hours, visit Mayfest's Web site.
Mayfest's mission is to create and promote "a broader knowledge of and appreciation for arts and humanities among serious, as well as casual, art lovers."
Remember that when you're out there chugging beer and chomping on corn dogs.
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