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Best Time at Bestival!

I had the honour of being part of a stellar group of culture-loving, hard working, inspired human beings this September... a group who envisioned creating a European-style art/music/food festival in Belmont Village (Kitchener, ON). Led by the vision of founder, Tim Moher (Jazz musician and lover of all things community), Belmont Village Bestival roared onto the cultural stage for the first time last Sept... this year would mark it's second year, with over 5,000 in attendance on a record-breaking, hot and sticky day.

My small part in this huge endeavour, was to provide some creative inspiration to the general public in the form of three entry-level art workshops and to devise a larger art event to capture the hearts and minds of the festival goers.

The workshops saw about 40 adventurous souls try their hand at painting abstract acrylic paintings which they then were able to take home! Many were first-time painters, and fun was had by all.

The larger event which my inherently crazy mind invented was a live painting competition similar to an art battle... but with a twist. "CutThroat Creating" hosted five live painters who painted to the emotional guitar sound-scape provided by David Cheon, who improvised on his instrument for the entire hour. The catch was that the painters drew Asset and Angst Cards from a deck, and were required to follow the instructions on the cards (even if they didn't want to). For example, if they drew an Angst Card, they may be asked to paint with their non-dominant hand for the next 5 minutes... or to invite a random audience member to paint on their canvas... or to steal another painters brushes... or to dance while painting for the next 2 minutes! You get the idea. Of course, they also drew some Asset Cards which allowed them to go to the table for more paint colours or tools/brushes.

The painters enjoyed the event... one said it was the most fun they had ever had painting. The audience seemed enthralled as well... many said it was interesting to get insight into the creative process and to see the pieces take form. Audience members were allowed one vote each, and in the end over 170 votes were counted! In the end, the winner of the first place $200 Curry's Gift Certificate was Jason R. Piper of Kitchener with his rendition of a nearby building under construction with himself painting in the foreground.

At the end of the hot day, organizers, volunteers and festival guests were spent... as for me, I admit that a soothing hot tub at the end of the day never felt so good!

So why do we labour long hours and expend so much mental and physical energy for the sake of a song or a brush stroke? It's all about community... the arts unite us; they speak of the human condition; they comfort; they entertain; they change us. I for one don't know how I would live life without them.

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