Color + Sound: Via Colori Rolls Into Downtown, This Weekend

viacolori-blog2From tomorrow, Saturday, November 23rd, through Sunday, November 24th, downtown Houston will once again play host to one of the coolest, most unique street festivals this city sees out of a fairly big pile of events each year, the Via Colori Street Painting Festival.

It started off relatively small less than a decade back, but it’s grown by leaps and bounds these past few years, moving up to Hermann Square, right smack-dab next to City Hall, and incorporating music and food and face-painting and crafts and wine and a whole bunch of other stuff while still holding tight to the art that’s at the center of it. And the art, honestly, is the real draw.

I finally took the kids to the Festival a year or two ago, the first time for any of us, and we were all amazed at the vibrant, intricate, insanely colorful artwork covering the streets of Downtown. I was as stunned as the kids were, truly, standing there gaping as we watched various artists down on hands and knees, as hard at work as they maybe would’ve been in front of a “real” canvas. We took plenty of pictures, but even those couldn’t really express the spectacle.

Of course, I’ll also admit to being a sucker for the music. Over the past few years, in particular, the Via Colori folks have managed to include some of the best damn bands in this city in the lineups for their two-day festivities, and this year’s no exception, with folks like awesome rocksteady/reggae heroes The Suffers, rough-edged indie-rockers Jealous Creatures, and laidback folkie Clory Martin all on the bill.

And best of all, the whole thing’s free. Anybody can wander through, check out the art, listen to the music, the whole deal (okay, so the food & drink aren’t free, but still…). To me, that beats the hell out of a lot of art festivals I’ve been to, where you’re charged simply to go inside.

At the same time, it’s a benefit of sorts, where people sponsor chunks of pavement that the artists will then do their work on, with the money going to help The Center for Hearing and Speech, a very, very cool nonprofit.

So, with the festival fast approaching, we here at SCR hit up the festival organizers with some questions on Via Colori as a whole, and organizer Erin Felton was kind enough to respond. Here goes…


 

SCR: Alright, so first off, how did the Via Colori Festival come about?
Erin Felton: This is the 8th annual event — our non-profit agency wanted to bring a new event to the Houston community to help raise money and awareness for our cause. Via Colori has grown so much over the past few years, and has even been designated as a “signature Houston event” by the Mayor’s office!

Can everyday folks do their own street artwork at the Festival?
We mostly leave it to the pros — we have over 200 street painters from all over, and give each of them a sponsored square space on the streets. But everyone can still participate! Pinot’s Palette is hosting a community mural that anyone can contribute to. We even have a kids’ space, where they can paint a little 2’x 2′ square. If you like what you see and think you might have a knack for street painting, let us know, and we could hook you up with your own offical square for next year.

What’s new at this year’s Festival? Any cool announcements to make?
A few things! We’re hosting a scavenger hunt — mostly for people who want to drink free beer and win fun Houston prizes. Also, we’re going to have a few teams of artists drawing giant murals portraying the different facets of Clutch City, and setting up scaffolding above the murals so you all have great photo ops. And obviously, I’m super excited about the music lineup, from The Suffers to Justin Van Sant Band; a little something for everyone…for free!

Houston’s a pretty big art town — what kind of a response have you gotten from the local art community?
It’s incredible to see the local art community come together. I love seeing the variety. Some are professional muralists, like Anat Ronen and a few others whose work I’m sure you’d recognize from street art around town. Some work with different mediums but can translate their art into street painting. The local art community really breathes life into our city, and it’s so cool to see them all in action over the weekend.

I’m psyched to see the music becoming a bigger part of the Festival; who all do you have playing this year?
So much talent! We’ve got The Suffers, Justin Van Sant Band, La Sien, Runaway Sun, Jealous Creatures, Los Guerreros de la Musica, Soul Track Mind, Clory Martin, Jess Walker…just to name a few. Where else can you see all these bands in one place, for free? Check out the full lineup on our site (http://centerhearingandspeech.org/via-colori/entertainment/).

What’s the overall mission of The Center for Hearing and Speech?
We help deaf children in our region, teaching them listening and speaking skills. We have clinical services, speech therapy, a school and social services all under one roof. Last year we served over 5,000 children and their families.

And on the purely practical side of things, what’s the plan if it rains?
Good question — we’re still holding out hope, but the forecast looks like we might get some rain. If it’s pouring, we’ll move it to a parking garage just a couple of blocks away — which is still a pretty cool urban-y experience in itself — but if it’s just some sprinkles, we’ll keep everything as planned. A little rain actually makes the street art much more vibrant and beautiful. Check our Facebook page for weather updates.

I know it’s early to ask, but do you have any grand plans for *next* year?
It’s a secret! But seriously, we might bring in some unicorns. We keep having to up our game every year…it’s getting out of control. END


Interview by . Interview posted Saturday, November 23rd, 2013. Filed under Features, Interviews.

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One Response to “Color + Sound: Via Colori Rolls Into Downtown, This Weekend”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 3: Via Colori Festival + CHVRCHES + Lindi Ortega + Brett Detar + Hardcore Matinee + More on November 24th, 2013 at 11:06 am

    […] is excellent news, because as I mentioned previously somewhere around here, Via Colori is a heck a lot of fun. Mind-blowing street art + Houston’s wholly underrated […]

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