Artica is an outdoor, multi-disciplinary, participatory arts festival and parade that brings the whole world together in a celebration of creative expression. Artica occurs at the whim of the people on the St. Louis riverfront.
My favorite times of Artica are always the early mornings in the days before the actual event. Every year, there's a new landscape waiting to be played with, a mixture of faded St. Louis memories and lumbering hope, a stew of dirt, graffiti and crumbling concrete with a view of a more shiny version of downtown and the barges trudging down the Mississippi.
Those are the mornings of digging and building, planning a way to turn a small corner of Artica into a reflection of something bigger, my own little mix of dirt and industry, knowing that my best efforts will ultimately be ignored like a gnat by the bigger picture. This is good. I need to be reminded.
The best part of Artica is the people. There is no more prestige to participating in Artica (though there ought to be a plaque mounted there for Nita and Hap) than there is in bringing your best dish to a family reunion. There is no glad handing, just a bit of high fiving. People who wander into Artica wander into realizing that they could be an artist, even for a moment, or that the artist mold they've poured themselves into is made to be broken. I hear a lot of people say "I had no idea. Next year I'm going to..."
This is a nexus, a rare mixture of underground intensity and openess to all. We all show up to show something new, meet someone new and remind oursleves that in this forgotten corner in the middle of St. Louis we can make bull shit come true.