A Tribute to Impermanence
Artists took centuries to make the transition from classicism to abstraction,
but Mother Nature managed the feat in a matter of minutes at the 9th
Annual Lake Worth Street Painting Festival this February. Torrential downpours
reinterpreted dozens of pastel paintings whose styles spanned the history of
weekend festival, artists decorated the streets with paintings that ranged from
the realistic to the fantastic, from portraiture to cartoons. They paid homage
to Rosetti, Renoir, Picasso, van Gogh, Gauguin, Warhol, O’Keefe, and other famed
artists, and they created original works of art. Equipped with photos of the
images they wished to create, some artists first laid grids to guide them while
others simply plunged into their labors of love.
shoulders and noses reddened in the sub-tropical sun, hundreds of artists were
joined by thousands of art enthusiasts. Artists sprawled on the pavement (some
equipped with knee-pads and chamois cloths, some using cardboard and fingers as
cushions and blending tools); spectators milled around, admiring the many-hued
streets as they munched festival food and drank fruit smoothies. Even when
artists put the pastels down, picked up a cool drink and rested under one of the
town square’s many banyan trees, they could be easily identified by the colorful
smudges on their sun-kissed skin.
everyone knew the weather forecast for Saturday night was grim, but everyone
enjoyed the glorious afternoon anyway. At day’s end, most artists attempted to
protect their creations from the weather using plasticene and duct tape. But as
the wind began to whip through the streets, the gusts liberated some
works-in-progress from the suffocating plastic. One gust exposed a fairy’s bare
bottom for a good, hard rain-spanking.
Of course, no
one had expected the images to last forever--once the festival ends and the
streets re-open, car tires will become giant rubber erasers--but no one wanted
the images destroyed before they were completed.
onslaught of rain, Sharon Koskoff was putting the finishing touches on the four
Tony Smith paintings within her giant, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary
Art-sponsored square. She shrugged off the weather threat: “If it rains, it
won’t be here anymore, but I can take a picture and that will last
morning, Sunday lived up to its name. The clouds were gone and the sky was
stretched like a giant blue canvas. Artists returned to survey the damage.
Ironically, Koskoff’s creation weathered the storm. And even if it hadn’t, the
PB/ICA was offering free admission to the Smith exhibit, where festival-goers
could see the originals.
displayed their notorious sensitivity: “Due to weather, life stinks! Death to
Art!” was scribbled beneath one unrecognizable blur, whose creator evidently
decided to call it quits.
cried,” confessed Georgette Pressler of her water-damaged rendering of Michael
Park’s Art Deco “Moon Cranes.” Picking up a piece of chalk to salvage what
remained, she laughed “Nature doesn’t care.”
labored, hippie pacifists in clown attire teetered on stilts and passed out
pamphlets protesting war. Nearby, a drum circle encouraged participants to
creatively and peacefully resolve conflicts. Down a side street, children
picked up chalk and drew smiley faces, flowers, and rainbows. By the festival’s
end, the streets of Lake Worth bloomed with color and creativity.
festival’s most remarked creation was Laura Noel’s tribute to the Columbia
7-member crew. Although by late Sunday afternoon Noel’s image was less than
half-finished, onlookers admired the devotion and skill the artist had lavished
on her subjects. With their heads in the clouds, the international crew sported
All-American smiles oblivious to impending disaster. In the background, a tiny
space shuttle trailed off like an afterthought.