The 2012 Art Outside Art Fair was supposed to kick off its three-day run at Schlafly Bottleworks just outside of St. Louis on Friday, September 7th, but the festivities were canceled by the weather. You can’t argue with the weather or it will kick up something nasty, like a severe thunderstorm. (Which it did Friday.) Maybe the weather doesn’t like art, but the folks around here do. An average of about 15,000 people attend the fair every year.
It all started back around 2004 at the area’s biggest art fair, the Clayton Art Fair in Clayton. It’s still in Clayton, but now it’s called the St. Louis Art Fair. Up until that time the local craft brewery here in St. Louis, Schlafly, shared the beer serving duties at the fair with another local brewery, Anheuser Busch.
I would imagine that Busch sells more beer in a day than Schlafly does in a year. Despite that, big brother Busch didn’t like the little guy Schlafly pitching a tent on the same block, so they pulled some strings and got the little guy thrown out of the biggest art fair in the area. I think that they just got jealous because Schlafly tastes so much better than Bud Light.
Another probable reason that Busch doesn’t like it’s tiny little competitor is because the brewery is very green. Their restaurants serve a lot of organic, locally grown food and they even have a farmer’s market on their parking lot every week.
So, instead of getting mad that they got thrown out, Schlafly started its own art fair: Art Outside. Though not as big as its giant cousin in Clayton, the fair has grown every year and offers patrons a fine collection of juried art at much more reasonable prices.
Despite closing down on Friday, the festival seemed to be making up for it on the weekend. When I arrived there Sunday about fifteen minutes before the opening, the parking lots were already filled. Construction on the main lot didn’t help things very much either.
Besides the paintings, prints, sculptures, and pottery, there was plenty of food on hand. And since the fair opened right at twelve noon on Sunday, the smell of wood smoke filled the air and most people were clutching some form of smoked meat in their hands.
They also had a very good local band supplying the music. Boss Hall is composed of: Margaret Bianchetta (vocals and flute), Tom Hall (resophonic guitar), Bob Breidenbach (dobro and vocals), Kevin Buckley (fiddle and vocals) and Vince Corkery (bass).
All of these musicians have successful solo careers, but Margaret and Tom were hanging out in a bar in Soulard one day and after a couple of drinks, decided to form a band. Pretty soon they were joined by other friends and the rest, so they say, is history. All of them are very good separately, but together they really compliment each other. Their music is an eclectic mix of old standards and new songs with a folksy, jazzy twist.
All in all, I like the smaller Art Outside better than its huge rival in Clayton. In this day of giant corporations (like Busch) sometimes it’s better to root for the little guy with the better beer. Oh, and the art’s pretty good too.