Arts Fest is ‘itself a work of art’

The annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts will soon be underway in State College. I’ll still be in California, but will raise a glass in spirit to my friends in Happy Valley.

I’m remembering one of my favorite chapters from Ben Novak’s The Birth of the Craft Brew Revolution. “A Beer for the Festival” appeared in the Centre Daily Times on July 13, 1986, and reappears in the book as a example of what Arts Fest represents for so many. An excerpt:

The body is tired, but the mind and spirit are still exhilarated by the presence of so much art and, what is more, the presence of so many people who appreciate it. For art is not only a source of private experiences which can be personally bought and collected. Art is also, and perhaps more importantly, a public celebration, a sharing of spirit, an act of community.

In the midst of so many art exhibits, and so many stages with artists performing, it is easy to take ourselves for granted. But take a look at some pictures of the festival some day, and notice how the crowds of people catch your eye. For the whole festival is itself a work of art, and its spirit is expressed best through the people who come and fill the streets. ….

In order to enjoy the festival itself as art, one needs but a quiet time of recollection and a good tankard of ale. Then one can summon up again the best of the sights and sounds and smells and tastes and feelings of the festival week. One can savor each one, turning it over carefully in one’s mind, converting what might have been only a momentary thrill into a lasting impression. After all, isn’t that what art is – the converting of something momentary, like a fleeting smile on an old woman’s face – into something lasting, like the Mona Lisa?

So, late this afternoon or evening, sit down to really enjoy the festival. Create out of all its bright colors and wondrous events a work of art in your own soul where you can keep it and savor it for a lifetime.