May 26, 2003

Wind Festival Provides Some High-Flying Art

Filed under: Art and About the Everyday — admin @ 10:01 pm

What I love about art is that I often find it where I least expect it, and I am constantly expanding my definition of it.

The week before Memorial Day weekend, my husband emailed me a Web site link accompanied by the enthusiastic message, “Oooooh! Maybe we should go!” With great anticipation, I clicked on the link, only to find it brought me to information on the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival. However, the only two words that registered with me were “Wind Festival.”

I hate wind. Two things you’ll never catch me doing are riding in a convertible and flying kites. Of course, a majority of the wind festival centered around kites. My husband claims to like kite flying. He has a kite that I have carefully packed and unpacked as we moved from domicile to domicile. In the fifteen years we have been together, that kite has never been up in the sky. But, he convinced me to trek down to San Ramon on Memorial Day because our two-year-old would probably enjoy the kite demonstrations.

No sooner had we found a spot on the lawn to watch championship kite-flyers do their thing than our son was making a beeline to the sandbox as far away from the kites as possible. My husband ran after him and I was left with our eight-week old sitting in the wind watching the kites. I was not feeling very receptive to new experiences.

As my hay fever kicked in, I focused on my picnic lunch and wondered how long we had to stay before my son would be ready to head home for his nap. As kite-flyer after flyer did their routines to music, I heard the announcer run through a litany of awards and honors given the performers. These guys sounded like they were top of their field, so I decided to give them my attention.

The dancing the kites did in the air reminded me a lot of figure skating, of which I am a huge fan. I am one of those people who considers figure skating an art as much as a sport and ballet a sport as much as an art. Like figure skating or ballet, when choreography, music, skill and athleticism align, it is a goose-bump moment.

I learned that in the world of competitive kite flying, there are events for precision (tracing shapes and patterns in the sky), ballet and free-style (using multiple kites, props and costumes to express an idea). I learned you can go up to 72 miles-per-hour on a buggy pulled by a kite, called buggying. And I learned that when Brian Champie performed to Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” we were watching a routine that was internationally acclaimed, reaching kite enthusiasts around the world within 3 hours via the Internet when it was first performed at a competition. Wow! That’s like seeing Brian Boitano!

Needless to say, my allergy-induced bloodshot eyes were opened. Interestingly, I didn’t find the kites themselves very artistic. And I never made it over to the Art side of the Art and Wind Festival. But if you ever have a chance to see expert kite flyers in action, do it. I know they’ll at least be back at San Ramon’s 2004 Art and Wind Festival. Mark your calendars.

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