For many in our little community, Labor Day is synonymous with the Art Fest. Occupying two blocks of an already gorged with tourists downtown area , the 2-day event was created six years ago by Benito del Aguila in an effort to pull Rosarito out of the economic doldrums. He and his committee work tirelessly year-round, meeting once a week at the little wine bar La Vid where I get the latest Fest scoop from the owner Jorge Rodriguez – do visit him if you can, you will not regret it. They work on the logistics of securing some 120 venues as well as arranging two solid days of entertainment. Aside from promoting all the local music and dance groups, the Fest showcases professional entertainers of some renown.
I hit the festival around 3 PM on Saturday in the middle of the heated performance of a Brazilian ensemble on the huge stage set up outside Festival Plaza Hotel. Standing room only best describes the throngs taking up all two hundred chairs as well as all the tables outside the adjoining food court. I lucked upon some friends at one of the tables and stayed for a spell. Not an easy call deciding among the offerings of Gaucho Argentino, the paella from Vamos de Tapas, or Susanna’s now legendary tamales and adding to the quandary was artisan beer versus Jorge’s sangria.
Every year I look forward to seeing what my favorite artists have hatched since the last fest. Robert Pace Kidd added some stunningly haunting photos while Lucile de Hoyos whose sensibilities move me featured a half dozen new paintings I’d love to “adopt”. A great high is discovering newcomers to the festival. David Potter’s sculptures carved out of rocks from nearby mountains encapsulate originality, grace, color, and texture. Also new to me and to the event was Alfredo Zavala, a self taught marine ecologist whose paintings grabbed my emotions for their powerful evocation of sailing scenes. Through his work, he seeks to emphasize the importance of conservation, but far from finding his pictures didactic, they grabbed me for their intensity in evoking the power of the ocean.
No fair would be complete without the ever popular human sculpture of the silver plated slow moving mime. A freelance didgeridoo player on the sidewalk and the giant robot added a quirky note to the scene.
I decided to return for a late performance of Afroturk, a latin percussion band of Charlie Chavez whose golden sound I had enjoyed before. And this was only Saturday night. The day had been extremely crowded and Sunday would be worse. The best time to enjoy the art would be before noon, before the feast for the senses, the 3-ring circus, call it what you want, begins.