The Pearl Street Arts Fest — an event showcasing the work of creatives in Boulder and beyond — returns this weekend after a two-year pandemic-related hiatus.
“For me, personally, it’s all about the artists,” said Anna Salim, vice president of events and membership for Downtown Boulder Partnership. “This year’s festival will feature a plethora of Colorado artists, plus talented artists traveling in from 19 other states.”
Whether looking for a handmade ring or a new piece of furniture to jazz up a home, the possibilities of just what fine art one may discover is sure to exceed expectations.
“The festival has developed a strong reputation in the arts community so the incredible talent that applies every year is really fantastic,” Salim said. “There will be a variety of mediums on display — booths filled with jewelry, pottery, paintings and more creating this amazing outdoor gallery on the Pearl Street Mall that is just magical.”
In addition to perusing the work of over 90 artists, attendees will get a chance to see creativity unfold.
“Boulder County Arts Alliance is piloting an artist residency program and kicking things off by providing an artist demo with local artist Lio Bumba all day on Saturday,” Salim said. “Watching the process of creation will also be a fun and engaging activity for those who attend.”
Kids will have opportunities to create work of their own. Salim said this year the theme will be “Welcome to Your Happy Place” and wlll offer an art-making activity about finding your happy place.
Boulder-based artist Andrew Barker, who has participated in art events on Pearl Street in previous years, will make his Pearl Street Arts Fest debut this weekend.
Working mainly in watercolor and combining that medium with ink, gouache and colored pencil on traditional fine art paper or wood, his intriguing depictions of the natural world have an earthy, yet almost graphic-design feel, as they are rich with geometrical wonder.
From a pair of wise owls to a winding ram skull adorned with flowers, his subject matter is greatly influenced by the creatures of Earth and cycles of life.
“Every time I do a show, I get told several times that my work is so different than everything else they see at art festivals,” Barker said. “To me, this is one of the biggest compliments I can get. My work mixes traditional subjects and techniques with a more contemporary aesthetic treatment and modern display. The balance I strike works really well in that my pieces fit very well in a variety of decor schemes.”
Barker — who works out of his studio in the NoBo Arts District — was creative growing up and spent two decades in the design industry. Five years ago, he had a realization about taking his art career to another level.
“I had put together a small body of work that was accepted by a gallery,” Barker said. “Of course it took some time to get selling regularly, but it was the first significant step for me in realizing that being a full-time artist was attainable.”
Barker is enthused to be displaying his latest work on his home turf.
“A huge plus for me is that the show is right in my neighborhood, so I’m able to show my work to a lot of people I know who haven’t seen it before or know what I do,” Barker said. “While Pearl Street is always popular with visitors, it’s really events like this that bring out the locals as well, and that all adds up to a very vibrant scene.”
Pearl Street Arts Fest will be open until 7 p.m. Saturday.
“One nice aspect of this show will be that the hours extend into the evening,” Barker said. “Not only does this give a wider window for attendees, but there’s also something very unique and magical about having the street lined with lit-up booths in the evening.”
Another artist participating in Pearl Street Arts Fest for the first time is Rick Dallago, whose hyper-realistic oil paintings are edgy Rockwellian.
“I love any opportunity for my artwork to be seen, especially on the Pearl Street Mall — Boulder’s most popular destination,” Dallago said. “I’m flattered when kids drag their families into my tent. We are fortunate to live and/or work in Boulder, a community that is so supportive of the arts and artists.”
Satirical, bold and always thought-provoking, his work has caught the attention of collectors around the globe.
“I’m inspired by what’s happening in the world,” Dallago said. “I like to weave a social commentary with humor into my narrative.”
All winners will receive a handmade award and Best in Show receives a $250 cash prize. Best 2D and Best 3D winners each will receive a $125 cash prize.
“I am extremely humbled and proud that Pearl Street Arts Fest has trusted me with this assignment,” Grant-Lord said. “I will be looking for great technical proficiency, originality, style and vision, a unique prospective, visual stimulation and (if) the work evokes an emotional response.”
A 14th Street Artist Preview runs 3-8 p.m. Friday. The festival runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5p.m. Sunday.