by Bill Dillberg and
Art and Agriculture come together in downtown Visalia September 9 through 11 with the Taste the Arts celebration. This three-day festival, hosted by the Visalia Arts Consortium, will offer a full menu of activities including theatre, music, art and more — centered around a theme of the Valley’s rich agricultural heritage.
The main centerpiece of the event is a large-scale sculpture on wheels featuring gold leaf produce. The sculpture “Where the Fruits of Labor Reside” celebrates the collective labors of the Visalia community and surrounding areas. The featured artists, Lori Esposito (Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at University of North Dakota) and Duane McDiarmid (Associate Professor of Sculpture and Expanded Practice at Ohio University), will extend their creative processes to involve community members. As a result of a recent visit to Visalia and Tulare County by artist Lori Esposito, fifty small portraits of a diversity of individuals working in agriculture will be painted and included as a component of the sculpture.
“In designing the project, we immediately confronted the reality that agriculture is not some sort of shared pastoral paradise but rather sits atop a matrix of social fissures that intersect all our lives and communities — sometimes dividing them bitterly. Who is agriculture? In developing ‘Where the Fruits of Labor Reside,’ we decided to favor community over any other stance, to acknowledge that people of disperse histories and even more diverse beliefs exist together in a community,” said Esposito. The artists have created a blog to share news about the work-in-progress.
Kicking off the festival will be the Event’s Visalia Annual Waiters Race at 5:30 on Thursday afternoon. At 8:00pm, Sound N Vision presents local favorite band Mezcal that performs high-energy Latin music. This free concert and dance will be on Main Street. The curtains also open at the Ice House Theatre for a free performance of Greater Tuna by the Visalia Community Players. Every night the Cellar Door will open its doors for the 21 and older crowd for a mere $5 cover charge. Artist Amie T Rangel’s drawings will be on exhibit during the week at the College of the Sequoias Art Gallery.On Friday, the festivities continue! Visitors can experience a free vaudeville performance at the Enchanted Playhouse and sample local restaurants signature menu items at the Marriott. An artist reception will be held at Arts Visalia gallery.
The centerpiece sculpture will be created in the Garden Street Plaza and completed by Saturday. Garden Street Plaza will be buzzing with activities including an artist faire from 3:00 to 7:00pm and kids activities sponsored by Taste Tulare County and ImagineU Children’s Museum. The Visalia Community Players will offer another free performance at 2:00pm of the hilarious play Greater Tuna. At the 210, a free opera Taste of Mozart will be performed at 6:30pm. For the finale, the City of Visalia’s Transit Expansion will be opened to the public and the Tulare County Symphony will perform at 8:00pm. A full schedule of events can be found online.
To promote the event, several custom street pole banners created by a painting class at UC Santa Cruz will be hung throughout downtown. These original pieces are themselves a work of art and reflect art, agriculture and community in a vibrant fashion.
For event information or to sign up for an artist booth space, please visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website or contact Caroline Koontz, Arts Consortium Coordinator, via ckoontz[at]ci.visalia.ca.us or 559-713-4324.