Fasten your seat belts! We stole the keys from Mr. Peabody and it's time to take a little ride in the Wayback Machine!
It's 2010. We're having a talk with our good friend Shaun Nyeholt about Arts, Beats & Eats coming to Royal Oak for the first time. A businessman with a keen and commendable interest in everything this festival delivers, Shaun is optimistic, happy and bursting with civic pride. But us? BUT ME?! I was genially predicting Apocalypse Now – albeit with a better soundtrack.
"Royal Oak?," I asked. "What the hell were they thinking?! Look, Pontiac isn't perfect, but those streets are ideal for the sort of crowds this event attracts year after year. Where will people park? How will they maneuver trucks through our anorexic intersections? Logistics, dog! I'm talking LOGISTICS! Can you imagine what one thunderstorm will do? And don't even get me started on ..."
Let's cut to the chase. I was ... maybe a little too pessimistic, okay? The art arrived, the beat went on without a hitch and the food was fantastic. And from the looks of things, 2011 is going to be even better.
And why shouldn't it be? If Arts, Beats & Eats is nothing else, it's this: a dynamic and welcome kick-in-the-ass to drive away complacency and ennui.
We dwell in a world that frequently seems vapor-locked Monday thru Friday, and working for the weekend (if we're lucky to be working, that is) doesn't always pay off. The headlines we choose to read, the news on TV that we watch, the words we hear from people in the same fix – add all that to the brew and you'll understand why we're looking forward to this street party as much as you are. There is and always will be an incredible galaxy of talent in this corner of Michigan. Seeing, hearing and tasting so much of it in one place at a given time is a sovereign remedy for... fine, I'll say it. Pessimism!
That logistical problem? Remedied – thanks to a lot of hard work and a few lessons that the city fathers and mothers learned last year. Assuming you know Royal Oak, but are not familiar with this annual aesthetic/musical/gastronomic jamboree, here's the lowdown. A hefty chunk of the downtown business district between Main and Lafayette will be set aside, spruced up and "amped" for the proceedings. Sections will be devoted to culinary delights and libation stations (note: promise us you'll discover wine with Robert Mondavi!). The melody-licious exercises will be heard from suitably elevated stages. A number of generous and thoughtful commercial sponsors are being permitted to tent on the old campground. Be nice to them – and take a few flyers home with you. Odds are strangers will ask polite questions about your spine or your blood pressure. In light of health care costs these days, it wouldn't kill you to answer them. If you choose to bicycle rather than drive, there's a safe corral for your two-wheeled treasure. If you spot ANY bellydancers, text us immediately! Oh, and be prepared for some truly magnificent art!
The art chiefly concerns us here. So without further ruminations about the human condition, let's give you a few asides, recommendations, and names for that dance card you'll be carrying.
First off – do you like to run? On 9/3, there will be an Arts in Motion 5K suitable for walkers and those who prefer a faster speed. This mini-marathon starts ambulating at 9 a.m. from Starr Jaycee Park and raises much needed cash for arts education in our schools. Find further details and register online by visiting artsbeatseats.com. We will once again have a juried show with awards handed out for works in a variety of mediums. That means painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, wood, digital magic – you name it. One hundred-sixty booths will be set up and predictions are already being made that A, B & E will again rank as one of the country's biggest draws. The Royal Oak Music Theatre (80,000 square feet of blissful air-conditioning!) has donated lobby space for a display featuring pieces by 20 talented local people. And with all due respect owed to RDW's somewhat ambiguous "demographics," we know for a fact that many of you manage to be hip, cool AND parental. If you're bringing the rugrats along, check out the nice space Creative Arts Studio is setting up – and let the kids Squirt a Shirt just for you!
For any and all scheduled waltzes ... Paul Adams and Ginny Herzog (canvases); Ellen Marshall and Aaron Reed (drawing); Stan Baker and Gail Markiewicz (ceramics); Jan Kaulins and Chris Maher (photography); Jerry Berta and Richard Skelton (sculpture); Bradley Cross and Stephen Breinager (metal); Alexis Silk and Thomas Chapman (glass); and you may decide which other stars you want to cut a rug with.
That reminds us. Sandy Akins-Moran and Candiss Cole (fabric/fiber).
Oh, we're in optimism hyper-drive! How about you, Sherman? | RDW