Friday, July 4, 2014

The San Diego Visual Fringe - Part of Successful Unjuried Festivals

By Joe Nalven

What’s real freedom like for art shows and for music, comedy, dance and theater performances? The first nominee would be the Fringe.

The Fringe began in 1947 in Edinburgh and has since become a World Fringe, including a San Diego Fringe.

So, what is the The Fringe?

“[It] is an unjuried festival – with no selection committee, and therefore any type of performance may participate. The Fringe has often showcased experimental works that might not be invited to a more conservative arts festival.”

Is it successful? 

The Edinburgh’s Fringe in 2011 had over 41 thousand performances and sold almost 1.9 million tickets in 258 venues over 25 days. There were about 21 thousand performers from 60 countries. And there were over 600 free shows.

But what does a Fringe Festival really mean?

“A Fringe is a grass roots Festival with freedom to celebrate and exchange. It’s a Fringe of a Festival or a Festival of Fringe Arts made possible by the people who take part. Developed organically across the globe, they are unique in style and form every time they open. A Fringe Festival exists to serve the participating artists and audiences through building awareness. They professionally umbrella an accessible development opportunity by administrating a programme of events and creating a platform and market place for new and established art forms. They are constituted through innovation and creative expression. The Fringe ethos is, ‘If you want to do it you can… Fringes offer an alternative!’” Holly Payton-Lombardo / World Fringe

Fringes Across the United States and there's San Diego's Fringe
San Diego Becomes a Fringe

Even San Diego’s famous and popular Comic Con pales in comparison to the Edinburgh Fringe. Neither the Con, nor the Fringe have the imprimatur of traditional museums, galleries and Broadway theaters. The Edinburgh Fringe points the way for many more Fringes to engage the public with a wilder sense of artmaking. Both traditional and fringe art can co-exist, and both should be applauded for rousing the public to reflect and appreciate the ways in which humans construct themselves. 

San Diego Visual Fringe / On First Avenue at the Corner of Broadway and First Avenue 
The San Diego Fringe is in its infancy – Year 2. But also the first year of Visual Fringe. It sees itself as linked to other San Diego festivals.

Here is how San Diego Fringe calls out to San Diego residents and visitors:

“11 Days of Eyeball Busting Shows!”

Following a successful debut in 2013, the Second Annual San Diego International Festival 2014 brings the beautiful, the bizarre and the unexpected to America’s Finest City. From July 3 through July 13, 2014 continues to make San Diego Theatre History by hosting over 35 World Premieres, 7 United States Premieres, 21 local premieres (ranging from seasoned international artists to young, aspiring new artists) and this year we are expanding our award-winning venture by introducing Visual Fringe and Family Fringe, to our Festival!

Live on the Fringe with San Diego Fringe 2014

• Experience Art without censorship

• Value artistic integrity as we do: by watching artists perform what they want, how they want while they receive 100% of their box office sales

• Watch what you want, when you want: Most shows run 45-60 minutes!

• Share your experiences with others (even your budget friendly buddies): Tickets are affordable (Art for Everyone!): $10 to free — A Festival PASS makes them even less!

Visual Fringe at the Spreckels Building 

Reminiscent of the variety one finds at a street fair, but with a modest beginning. The juxtaposition of art includes what one might find at most gallery exhibitions and then reaches into areas that are less common, perhaps overlooked with a snub of ‘that’s not fine art.’ Yes, coming back from Berlin, Germany and having seen some high end exhibits in San Diego, the boundaries between what is interesting, provocative – even ‘fine’ in ‘fine art’ – are not as clear as what one might think.

Meet the Artists at the San Diego Fringe

Eric Bjorkman might be expected to be more at home at Monsterpalooza or Days of the Dead with his heavy metal culture oriented leather gear. Bjorkman is a friendly face as one walks into the Visual Fringe venue. 

Eric Bjorkman with a leather accessory for heavy metal fans

Deron Cohen / Freed(rea)m, 2014, Oil on Masonite

Then there are the paintings of Deron Cohen. His comment is emblematic of the Fringe ethos:  "There is no 'wrong' way to dream. Freedom can be found within."

Alice Gerschler has a background in travel photography and entered her first art exhibit with intertidal photography (postprocessed in digital media).

Alice Gerschlet Intertidal Photography

Todd Cooper's large painting greeted visitors.
Todd Cooper
There were several other artists who hadn't yet set up. 

One of the interesting installations was set up in a back room with black lights, 3D glasses and a fascinating set of objects and configuations. The artists who made up The Ancient Gallery are Nigel Brookes, Iain Gunn, David Harrington and Mark Johnson.

The Ancient Gallery
Other artists I would have liked to have met had already hung their art.
Lynne Bolton
John Dunn

A great start to a visual fringe and much to look forward to in San Diego's Fringe Festival.

To read more about the SD Fringe Festival Art Exhibition click here for our A+Art Blog on the exhibition at the Tenth Street Theater

The San Diego Fringe runs from July 3 – July 13, 2014. 

Fridays and Saturdays: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Weekdays: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

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