Preceding Montreal's Under Pressure, House of PainT is an urban art celebration that may be smaller (for now) but is distinct in many ways.
|Sunday: Piece Park Graffiti|
The theme this year was 'connect' and it was left open to artist interpretation. From the gala fund-raiser event early in the week on Thursday at the Fall Down Gallery, it became clear to me that connection is a core value in this community of young artists and performers.
|Sabra Ripley addresses crowd at Gala Event, before we sang Happy Birthday to her Mom.|
Saturday's main event was a HUGE success. The market area was grooving with three times as many vendors as years past, indicating that local businesses such as The Milk Shop see the growing value of urban art to our city.
|Throw Back Threads sets up at the beginning of the day|
|Nick Robinson from Groundwork Sessions Crew|
So here is what the City of Ottawa counsellors need to hear: this event was run primarily by twenty-somethings who do this above and beyond regular full time jobs. They worked just as hard as the folks who run festivals like Bluesfest and Westfest but with less money. I have a fair amount of administrative experience in retail and academia (where red tape is King); I can say with some authority that these young men and women deserve your respect, not your limitations.
Finally, I have to give a shout out to the woman of this festival. It is not news to say that the urban art and music scene is dominated by men. Seeing tags thrown up on the corner of a small graffiti board saying "SKC loves Sluts" is an indicator of this macho element, which is a part of the larger culture we ALL live in. Art reflects life, after all.
HOWEVER, this festival is run in large part by many strong independent and confident women such as Sabra Ripley. One of the best performances of the day was by Eternia, a socially aware female rapper. Many women participated in the Bboy/girl battles and graffiti writing. How sexy is that?! It's downright inspiring, frankly.
|Eternia performs in the packed stands|
If anyone asked me what I would like to see changed about this festival, it would be its visibility. I am thankful the City lends some support to this show every year. But they can do more to make it easier for the organizers. Let the writers use the OTHER side of this wall that faces Riverside Drive.
|Crazy Apes (Montreal) Connect in Ottawa|
Nevertheless, to those artists and performers who helped put on House of PainT this year I say this: keep showing the City of Ottawa how amazingly talented and energetic you are. Given how this festival has grown, you KNOW there is support for the things you do.
Keep it growin!