Video and photographs by Shaun Edward
The 59th Sausalito Art Festival is open for business this Labor Day Weekend. Of course, this fact will already have been figured out the hard way by anyone trying to go anywhere in Sausalito this weekend. The Art Festival is by far the biggest annual event held is Sausalito, and the scale of the festival is expanded thanks open gallery viewings around the town.
Getting to the festival can be an adventure in itself. Those who drove could chose from paying ten dollars to park far away and take the provided shuttle buses, or could pay a staggering twenty dollars t0 to park near the festival entrance–although by 2pm the twenty dollar parking lot appeared to be totally full. Of course, many chose to walk to the festival as well, but those who did had to keep a constant eye out for the “shuttles,” which were actually enormous tour busses barreling down the industrial backroads that lead the festival entrance. There were parking-control type people pretty much everywhere you looked, many feeling extra-authorative in their official-looking but powerless reflective vests.
Pay a slightly staggering twenty five dollar entrance fee, and the stress and hubbub of the parking lots transforms into a world of high art and big money behind the festival gates. There’s no mistaking festival’s target demographic from the moment you enter, in no small part thanks to the Aston Martin and Jaguar convertibles on display just inside the festival entrance.
As expected, the art on exhibition doesn’t come cheap either. While there certainly are pieces available in the sub-500 dollar range, the number only goes up from there–five-figure-plus pieces were not hard to spot.
But this is not to take away from the quality of the art on display, because much of it was truly amazing. Sausalito has a vibrant art scene, and local artists were well represented, like painter Anne Davis of Sausalito. I don’t know how much a booth costs for the Sausalito Art Festival, but artists must be invited and you can be sure that it does’t come cheap, so it’s nice to see local artists represented.
Artists made the trip from far away as well. One of Sausalito Waterfront’s favorites was Jeffrey Zachman, who’s kinetic sculptures drew a constant crowd to his booth. Zachmann made the trip from Minnesota. Other favorites included Adam Homan of Tuscon, Arizona, whose metal-scupture critters stare back at you with beady fiber optic eyes. “You are not just looking at art,” his business card reads. “Art is looking at you!”
We’re big fans of metal work at Sausalito Waterfront. Bruce Macdonald’s booth was hard to miss, given that it was covered in the shiny metal panels that Macdonald works with. Similarly impressive was Michael Gard, who was hard to miss thanks to the delicately constructed wire human forms that hung around his booth. Another favorite was Theodore Gall’s elaborate cast sculptures–many of which were interactive.
If wandering around looking at art you couldn’t afford got boring, there were plenty of distractions available. Alcohol–though pricey–seemed to be flowing freely, and there were clearly some festival goes who’d had a drink or three too many. Not that it would be a hard mistake to make, as there was somewhere to exchange your hard-earned for booze virtually anywhere you looked, including a “food” truck where attractive women served patrons Kahlua or rum, as well as a dockside bar offering a huge variety of mixed drinks.
Drinking aside, there were two stages, the lesser of the two was surround by artist’s booths and played appropriate-but-forgettable music during our visit. The other, the Main Stage, was somewhat less tasteful. During our visit, the Main Stage–and indeed most of the festival–was dominated by the wafting sounds of hard rock songs from the stuck-in-the-80s cover band. While there was without a doubt a good crowd enjoying rocking out to songs from their glory years, equally amusing was the man muttering “It’s way too loud” as he wandered away from the stage, or the comedy of watching an artist haplessly located right off the Main Stage try and talk about the intimacies of his jewelry with interested couples over the blasting Bon Jovi covers.
There was also food, and while we chose not to partake in throwing any more of our money into Sausalito’s coffers, there certainly appeared to be a great variety to choose from, ranging from whole smoked turkey legs to crab cakes and veggie wraps.
But as is too often the case in Sausalito, to get the most out of the festival takes a lot more than the budgets of many have to spare. To truly experience all the Sausalito Art Festival has to offer would easily turn into a hundred-dollar date after the entrance fees, a few rounds of drinks and some food, not to mention the parking or ferry costs. Just hope she doesn’t settle on that thousand dollar oil painting.