A little bit of rain early Friday night didn’t dissipate the first-ever downtown ArtRageous art festival.
Soon to be a quarterly event, ArtRageous aims to bring the community together through art’s many forms. Several downtown art galleries, including PS: Gallery, the Columbia Art League and Orr Street Studios, played host to original, unique and sometimes interactive art to engage the community.
PS: Gallery featured an artist demonstration by Joel Sager. Spotlighted at the front of the gallery, Sager spent the night painting a lone rustic blue chair against a wallpapered background.
The Columbia Art League took a different route to engage passers-by.
On display in its window were Missouri Contemporary Ballet dancers who offered themselves up as living canvasses. The five dancers took turns having their bodies painted, and once their bodies were decorated, they mingled outside.
“People have just been stopping by to watch,” said Diana Moxon, executive director of the Columbia Art League.
Dan Harris, one of the dancers, was painted as an elaborate tiger.
“I feel like I should be in ‘Cats’ or something,” Harris said.
Another dancer had a tropical theme, with a sun painted on her stomach and a beach scene on her face. Others were graced with spider webs and butterflies.
The two women who painted the dancers, Jane Vargas and Susie Getzlaff, were with Centralia-based “Trading Faces” and also work as clowns, said Martin Vargas, Jane’s husband, who also works as a face painter/clown.
A paint-a-thon took place a few blocks away at the Orr Street Studios. Throughout the night, various artists were able to add their touches to a 12-foot canvass, which by the end was an abstract collage of color.
As ArtRageous came to a close, many people were still lingering around downtown and at the Orr Street Studios where community members were engaged in conversations with artists.
Gladys Swan, 72, shares studio space with two other artists at Orr Street. She said her life experiences as a writer and painter have influenced her vision of a community engaged in art.
“Art can really draw people together and communicate something just beyond the familiar everyday sights that they see,” Swan said.
Over at Poppy, a gift and art store in downtown Columbia, internationally acclaimed nature photographer Gay Bumgarner talked with observers about her art. She also showcased a funny and surprising photo, “Innocent Encounter,” which shows a raccoon hugging the neck of a fawn to kiss its nose and mouth.
“It was a magical moment,” Bumgarner said about the photo. “You only get a moment like that once in a while.”