With pounding steps and a thunderous roar, Jeghetto’s T-Rex stalked small dogs and sent a young girl squealing in delighted terror, as a baby watched wide-eyed from the edge of a stroller.
Chapel Hill puppeteer Tarish Pipkins, aka Jeghetto, was just one of many pop-up street performers and dancers Sunday on Fayetteville Street – the final day of the 37th annual Artsplosure nonprofit arts and cultural festival.
Organizers of the roughly $180,000 event were expecting as many as 100,000 people to visit downtown Raleigh during the festival’s three days, Artsplosure executive director Michael Lowder said. A jury chose 175 artists and craftspeople from more than 400 who applied, he said.
“We’re just really trying to have art experiences that everyone can enjoy and embrace,” Lowder said.
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Pittsboro potter Marie Wright was enjoying her first visit to Artsplosure and had sold a number of pieces, she said. The 15-year biochemist from southern California recently left medical research to be a full-time mother and professional potter.
Her works start with white porcelain and are finished with a crystalline glaze that grows unique patterns – soft and frosty – when fired.
“It’s like a meditation. You just go to this quiet place,” Wright said.
While Sunday’s cold showers seemed to subdue early crowds, families in Moore Square barely noticed while taking in the Magic Poodles show, bands and activity booths for drawing, painting and making crafts.
The big hit this year was the nine-hole Art Putt miniature golf course. The course debuted at First Night Raleigh in January and was redesigned for Artsplosure by eight local artists and the VEX Robotics Team at Southeast Raleigh High School.
Each hole was created with the theme “Artistic Inspiration” in mind, from Raleigh artist Thomas Sayre to Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. Set designer Greg Osbeck was commissioned to build the course, which could return with different themes.
Artist and piano teacher Tim Wood donned tails and a tophat for the event. Dali featured a lot of pianos in his work, Wood said, and the “Dali-Putt” hole was inspired by three of his paintings.
Golfers teed off under a towering pair of scissors (“Dreaming with Scissors”), their balls running up past a small piano (“Necrophilia Fountain Flowing from a Grand Piano”) to smack the strings inside a larger piano (“Persistence of Memory”) with a deep “thwong!” The balls then curled down and back under the smaller piano, exiting on the opposite side near one of Woods’ original works, “Major Lift.”
“It represents how sometimes we feel broken and empty,” Wood said, “but music lifts us up and (makes) us whole.”
Young pianist Benjamin Zepp, 8, tried to get a closer look at the piano’s workings before his mom Carmen Zepp stopped him from peeling back the cover, and they moved on to the Jackson Pollock arts table.
Benjamin, using wooden sticks, dipped tempera paint from the cup and flicked it onto a large canvas. Others joined him, splashing together greens, pinks, purples and browns in a re-creation of Pollock’s colorful work “Convergence.” It’s an activity they could do at home, Carmen Zepp said.
“It’s really fun. I wish I could do this on the couch,” Benjamin said. His mom suggested they do it outside instead.