Since 1977 the city of Ithaca NY has been celebrating its unique qualities at the Ithaca Festival. The Festival takes place in early June, after commencements at both Ithaca College and Cornell University have occurred and many of the student population has returned home. Ithaca is a little less congested for a few months and the natives in the city (and town) have an easier time finding parking spaces. Arriving warmer weather is welcomed, but frequently the Festival coincides with rainy, late Spring weather. However, nothing dampens the overall spirit of the community when it comes to this event.
An eclectic parade of community groups marches through the downtown area to usher in the Festival celebration. Capable stilt walkers always catch my eye. It amazes me that anyone can maintain enough balance to stay vertical on these tall sticks. In addition, the parade route is a fairly lengthy distance which can’t make it any easier to walk the walk.
At this year’s parade I brought my camera and took photographs of all the organizations and ad-hoc entertainment that have become my favorites. The stilt walkers are usually at the beginning of the parade, ready to get the onlookers in the right mood for the rest of the marchers. Our friends from NJ who accompanied us to the parade felt sure that some aspect of the event would show up in one of my collages or paintings. And so it has!
Today I felt the need to deviate from the formula I have been using to create my collages. Instead of gluing the focal points to the paper first, I used torn newspaper to cover the background areas. The parade is a news worthy happening. Three stilt walkers were cut from computer prints of my photos. In addition to the usual gesso for texture, I painted leg extensions and Statue of Liberty-like hair radiating from the heads. Definitely looser than my usual work, it was fun to be more experimental and spontaneous with the materials. Colored and ebony pencil defined the edges and subdued the background. Hopefully my collage captures the essence of the energy at the parade. It is truly a celebration of a diverse and wonderful community and the weather was perfect: cool and sunny for the whole two hour event.