Archive for September, 2005

by Will Cumberland

The Laurel  of Asheville


LAAFF, Sunday, September 4th – Asheville, NC

Want to try something a little different? The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival is possibly the  largest community produced art show in South East and a sure fire bet for anyone looking for something different to do while they are in Asheville. Going all day Sunday from 11AM to 10PM, the festival has plenty to see, experience and do. Last year’s LAAFF, brought in well over 10,000 people to the Lexington district. Artisans, musicians, poets and street
performers from the Western North Carolina area, get together each September to create this homegrown extravaganza of the arts.

Kitty Love, one of the festival’s originating artists, says, “This is a celebration of our local grassroots created culture – by providing a place for creativity, we are actively enhancing the quality to life in and around Asheville. We do this by simply utilizing local talent. Asheville is truly an art based community.”

LAAFF takes place right on Lexington Ave and is free to the public. Art cars own the street, along with belly dancers, fire spinners and drummers. Local bands, DJ’s and singer-songwriters give LAAFF its musical bounce. Two stages of music, dance and performances going will be going on well into the night. There’s a bicycle joust too. Kids also have plenty to do; face and art painting, puppetry, bubbling and creativity circles abound. The festival features the Underground Art Show and silent auction, and the finale is a drive-in theatre style showing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of OZ. Plenty of local food vendors will be on hand with the French Broad brewery providing beer for the festival.

Festival goers can purchase locally created jewelry (beadwork), eclectic clothing, Appalachian quilts, paintings, pottery, glasswork and creative pieces to bizarre to name.

Proceeds from this year’s festival will go to support the efforts of Arts2People and the Asheville Mural Project. Arts2People is a public art forum that works in partnership with the Asheville Arts Council and the Mountain Micro Enterprise Fund. For more information, visit Arts2People.org.

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by Kitty Love, LAAFF Festival Director

Spirit of the Smokies http://livingnewstories.com/

September 2005

The Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival is about to happen. All the weirdness elves have dusted off their magic wands and pulled out their bags of pixie dust for another day of enchanting surprises.

In reading Gayatri’s instructions for how to write an article for Spirit in the Smokies, what emerged on paper was more a poem than an article. It’s about empowerment, and the nature of creativity, and working together, and creating community, and healing our relationship to profit.

The LAAFFestival is a totally homegrown arts festival, consisting of exclusively local WNC offerings (even the beer!), which takes place Sunday of Labor Day weekend on Asheville’s funkiest street, Lexington Avenue. Its reason for being is contained within the mission of its parent organization, Arts2People. We are seeking to preserve the culture created by the united anarchists, the artists, the folks whose lives are art (this means you!) we have come together here for a purpose, drawn inexorably out of our dull and destructive pasts, and have created an affiliation that deserves celebration.

As chief cat-herder, the festival has been for me an exercise in trust. I have always had a do it myself attitude, often to a fault. The downside of being capable is allowing limited opportunities to see the miracles of which others are capable. In part, I created the fest to further the enlightenment I received from the experience of single motherhood. At that time, I wasn’t averse to begging help from strangers in parking lots, much less from my friends and family. I was astounded at what people could do; things I never thought of, solutions that were totally unique.

So the festival is like that. My coordination style is this (to the organizers): “Here’s some insurance, money, a tent, some supplies and a couple of volunteers. Knock us all out and don’t leave any trash.” And we unleash our creativity on the town.

This article, of course, is an unabashed sales pitch designed to entice you, the reader, into joining the frolic. I have become addicted to the process of co-creation of community and radical self-expression, and I know you will, too. We open the invitation to everyone to come and do something funky with us, and then enjoy the wacky, weird and wonderful result. Come in costume! We encourage participation, not just voyeurism (though there’s plenty to gawk at!)

A few festival tidbits include: beer painstakingly crafted in Asheville by the French Broad Brewery, food by local culinary artisans, WNC crafters, an underground art competition, interactive art games, kids art activities by the Arts Council and ArtSpace Charter School, art cars and an art car painting party, performance in three separate areas, and more, all brought to you entirely by volunteers from the community. Last year, we successfully enticed over 10,000 of you to come out and share the fun!

To share a few lines from the free association exercise that preceded this more left brain discourse:

When I work on creating the LAAFFestival I…

See peoples’ desire to connect and give and share

Feel like art has a chance against profit

Feel like art and profit can happen together

Believe poor people can prosper

Believe we can deflate the false importance of money

See god/dess

Feel divine guidance

Feel the presence of the energies of the mountains

Remind people to play

Create an investment in home

Acquaint people with the birthplace of creation

Its what the arts are all about, and how they create a quality of life worth preserving against the seduction of growth choices made with only profit in mind. As our area prospers, lets not relinquish what drew us here in the first place.

Arts2People works to preserve our culture, to strengthen the prosperity of our professional creatives, and to empower people through the creative process. Please go to arts2people.org to learn more about us.

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