Artica Festival

Flambe

Photo: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/

by Elliander Eldridge

Staff Writer

Each year during the second weekend of October, the St. Louis north riverfront is transformed into an arts festival known as Artica. The first Artica festival took place in October 2001 in the warehouse space of founders Hap Phillips and Nita Turnage at the edge of a dumping ground of rubble and has grown out of the collective vision of local artists.

I arrived on time for the burning of the effigy which was quite an impressive display. On standby were a number of professionals tending to the fire to keep everything under control and there was a complete lack of police or security presence. After the burning, many people went to dance in the abandoned warehouse with music setup by a DJ.

The following interview took place at this year’s Artica festival.

 

Elliander Eldridge: What do you think of Artica?

Melissa Scharfinski: This is my first time at Artica and it’s really cool. It’s nice to see an otherwise dead industrial space come alive with artistic life.

Sara Heck: I love Artica because of the glimpse it gives you into the gritty underground art scene in St. Louis and because of the spirit of group effort and creative expression. Artica is an annual event which allows the participants a venue to express themselves. Virtually anyone can get involved, can bring something to the table, can show off a skill or share a fantastic piece art with the community. One year I made spaceships from various things from my recycle bin. They were a big hit! Many art festivals – and music festivals, for that matter – are largely passive in nature where entertainment on stage is the focus and the participants are mainly observers. At a festival like Artica, there isn’t that separation. To participate is to be ‘part of the show’. Hap and Nita Phillips are the principal founders of Artica.

Elliander Eldridge: This appears to resemble the Hippie subculture. Would you agree with that statement? Would you like to see a return of Hippie mentality in modern America?

Melissa Scharfinski: I’m hardly an expert on hippie subculture but I can see a resemblance in that both are non-mainstream and have a nature/spiritual quality. As for a return of hippie mentality, I suppose there are aspects of the culture that could certainly benefit modern America. We could use more love and open-mindedness.

Sara Heck: I don’t see many similarities between current hippie culture, and the culture which spawned Do-It-Yourself (DIY) types of independent art festivals which I will attribute to the Burning Man subculture. I think that there is more of a connection to the early hippie culture which happened before I was born and less to the current hippie culture. Having been a big part of both, I do think that modern hippie culture is more of a ‘spectator’ subculture and that the Burner culture is more of an interactive, ‘maker’ subculture. The Burners seem to be more motivated in nearly every respect. They also seem to be more open and accepting, flexible and creative. But that’s just my opinion; others may think differently. I would like to see a return to the 60s culture which produced change and fresh ideas. I think Burning Man culture does in some ways do exactly that. Some people call Burning Man a “Woodstock” for art. And I do agree.

Elliander Eldridge: Is there anything you would like to say to anyone thinking of attending next year who has never been here before?

Melissa Scharfinski: Come with an open mind and see what you think.

Sara Heck: For those attending next year, remember that any art or form of creative expression is thoroughly welcome and appreciated. Some people like to dress costume or put together a neat outfit from the thrift store. It’s a great venue to do that. If you are naturally a creative and expressive person, you’ll feel right at home. If you are wanting to explore your creative self more, come try to push your own boundaries a little and get inspired; many do.

Elliander Eldridge: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Melissa Scharfinski: St. Louis has a lot of interesting artistic events that a lot of people may not know about. Keep an eye out for things in local papers and check out the KDHX arts and events calendar (kdhx.org) for listings.

Sara Heck: The last thing I’d like to say is that with respect to subcultures, I noticed that it’s common for people to talk about certain festivals, movements or cultures without having actually directly experienced these things themselves. It’s tempting to assume what something is about based on biases or scant information that is heavily influenced by the media. I would encourage anyone who is curious to come and investigate for themselves. You may find that you have a passion for building art installations or interactive technology. It’s about reaching high, pushing your boundaries and realizing some potential that you never knew you had…that and partying.

Elliander Eldridge: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Melissa Scharfinski: St. Louis has a lot of interesting artistic events that a lot of people may not know about. Keep an eye out for things in local papers and check out the KDHX arts and events calendar (kdhx.org) for listings.

Sara Heck: The last thing I’d like to say is that with respect to subcultures, I noticed that it’s common for people to talk about certain festivals, movements or cultures without having actually directly experienced these things themselves. It’s tempting to assume what something is about based on biases or scant information that is heavily influenced by the media. I would encourage anyone who is curious to come and investigate for themselves. You may find that you have a passion for building art installations or interactive technology. It’s about reaching high, pushing your boundaries and realizing some potential that you never knew you had…that and partying.

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About lcbridge

The Bridge is the student-run newspaper of Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois. We publish relevant, informative stories in a monthly print edition that focus on local events as well as global happenings. In addition, the online edition of The Bridge (thelcbridge) is updated frequently to reflect new information and more timely events.
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