Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Arts Fair and Charreada

While I'm not one for large and dense crowds, there are a few events that I don't like to miss. The first is the Fiesta Arts Fair sponsored by the Southwest School of Art and Craft (SWSAC). The second is the Charreada.

Fiesta Arts Fair

The SWSAC is a nationally recognized institution specializing in arts education. Courses are offered to adults and children in a number of different areas including ceramics, bookmaking, photography and many other specialties.

The Fiesta Arts Fair is only one of the several beautiful events that the SWSAC sponsors. Artists from all over the country and region are invited to showcase their works on the SWSAC grounds (a place that is a work of art in and of itself). When I say "invited," I mean that the artists are selected by a juried panel.

This is an event that has grown steadily during the last 36 years. According to their website, "San Antonio's Fiesta Arts Fair was named one of America's Top Ten Art Fairs and Festivals (coming in at #7, to be exact) by the national magazine, American Style."

One of my favorite parts this year was the Children's Art Garden (perhaps that because my little guy is 6 years old - the perfect age to enjoy this hands-on experience). There were a number of different craft stations where kids (and adults) could create their masterpieces. Clay sculptures, stained glass, monoprints, face painting, beading and quilling, metal repousse, art pots and Fiesta crowns were all part of the fun.

Let me just say... for all of you crafsters out there (me included), this was heaven!

The Charreada

The Asociacion de Charros de San Antonio hosts their annual Fiesta Charreada during the two Sundays of Fiesta. A charreada is what gringos often call a "Mexican Rodeo," but I suspect those who really know their stuff would say it goes much deeper than that. Seeped in Mexican art, tradition and culture, its roots date back to the time when the Spaniards first arrived in the Americas. It wasn't until the 1970s, though, when the Charreada was recognized as an official event in the US.

The event I attended began with a procession on horseback of the flags (American and Mexican). This is followed by an introduction of all of the participants on horseback. All are dressed in traditional costume and mariachi music plays in the background. It is a visual feast for the eyes and ears.

According to Wikipedia, a typical charreada consists of 9 events for men and 1 event for women. We only stayed for a few of the events (our younger companions were getting tired), but my favorite is the side saddle performance by the women. In this instance, a team of 8 or so young ladies created a number of different formations and patterns. Admittedly, its not their skill that is most impressive to me (though they are clearly highly skilled), but rather their costumes that I can't stop photographing. Their skirts flounce, their ribbons flow, their hats tip and their whips crack. It is is a breathtaking site.

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