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December 3, 2013

Free Art: The Downtown Redlands Art Walk

Written by  Isabel Quintero
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Nick Bahula - DTR Art Walk Nick Bahula - DTR Art Walk Isabel Quintero

Free art. It’s a strange concept but one that art walks, like this weekend’s Downtown Redlands Art Walk, embrace. Sure, if you wanted to purchase a piece of art there was a cost, though I did see art that started off at a measly $3.00, but the event, the booths, the music, and the poetry, was all free. This is the thing about art, though, it’s intimidating, even if it’s free.

You don’t want to admit that you don’t understand what a lino print is and have to ask twice, and then the artist just gives up, says, “It’s just a print [you simpleton],” so you take it and walk away, head hung low. “But I like it,” you think. “I want more but I’m afraid to ask.” This is why art walks are so important—they make art less intimidating by bringing it into the community, instead of asking the community to leave their comfort zone. It’s a little invasion that forces us to take a look and confront those fears, then realize there was nothing scary about art in the first place and even if we don’t understand it completely it’s okay, because art should always make us think.

Art walks (often) feature local artists who are part of your city and make-up your community. My God, the DTRA was in an alley! You can’t be more local and for-the-people than that. There were husband and wife teams, veterans, students, poets. At one booth an incredible metal sentry guarded the metal works behind it; cityscapes, trees, and a bullet ridden American flag. The flag, a tribute to a son who was injured over seas. Local bands played music and PoetrIE read poems—forcing art down your ears, so even if you wanted to walk down the street, shut your eyes, and give art the finger, you couldn’t. It was beautiful. And necessary.

At one of the booths Nick Bahula, an artist who leaves free art around the city urged a customer to take a wood block transfer. “But I don’t have money,” she said. Bahula smiled, “It’s okay. Just take a small one.” The effect was immediate. Free art: it tickles the soul.

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