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By Anita Felicelli

Battle of the Bay Area Art Fairs

Uploaded: Sep 4, 2013

The end of summer in the Bay Area brings a smattering of arts festivals, three of them of which I am aware?Palo Alto, King?s Mountain (Woodside) and Mountain View, in that order. Next weekend is Mountain View?s Art and Wine Festival.

I?d never been to the King?s Mountain Art Fair, but it was a Labor Day treat. The first thing that happened, however, was getting lost. Somehow that added to the allure of this festival. We wound around the mountain, from 280 to Sand Hill up to the wrong section of Skyline, finding ourselves in the middle of dripping redwoods. When we finally found the shuttle stop, we were picked up within 5 minutes. The shuttle was painted like a cable car, driven by a friendly driver and the baby enjoyed the blur of green and gold light as we made our way to the fair.

When we arrived, we hurried to the far end of the grounds to get pancakes, eggs, orange juice and instant hot chocolate. Janis Joplin was blasting in the background.

Families, older couples, and mountain artists congregated around the picnic benches, eating and talking. When we were done eaten, children who were hovering and watching uncertainly like elves, whisked away our paper plates.

The art was mostly crafts. Artisans spread their booths over the mountain?leather handbags, handmade cloche hats, window prisms, iron bells, wooden flutes. By way of fine arts, there was a New Mexico fiber artist. A sculptor with long Giacometti-like sculptures. In a lower glade, a musician was playing a Nyckelharpa (pictured above). If you?re wondering what a Nyckelharpa is, it is a stringed Swedish instrument that dates back to the 1300s and it?s gorgeous.

There was a Kiddie Hollow, nestled down a slope. At its entrance, a woman constructed remarkable balloon sculptures including a birthday cake hat and an Elmo. Down the slope were several crafts booths and a huge tee-pee filled with children?s books and pillows.

The festival was special, primarily because of the ambiance?the feeling that you?d stepped back into a Bay Area mountain art scene as it might have been in the ?70s. In my opinion, it was not as arts oriented, however, as Palo Alto?s Art and Wine Festival the weekend before. The number and variety of artists makes Palo Alto?s an exceptionally good art fair, at least for me.

At the Palo Alto fair, the kids? arts and crafts area was much more accessible to toddlers and older kids alike. A street full of vibrant chalk paintings made me feel like one of the kids in Mary Poppins. The area included the opportunity for kids or adults to purchase their own square in a concrete quilt to fill in with chalk drawings.

What?s missing and necessary from all the art fairs are conceptual artists, risk-takers.

Mountain View?s Art and Wine festival is coming up September 7-8th (this weekend). What do you like best about the local art festivals? What could be better?