I have to say, the excitement of standing on the Hawthorne bridge packed with people chattering and peering into the dim distance and waiting, waiting for some art to float down the river was probably my favorite part of last night’s TBA festivities. Well, that and the sound of Mark Russell yelling, “Hit it!” (or something to that effect) as a rag-tag crowd of TBA devotees followed the cadence of the Last Regiment Syncopated Drummers’ truly kick ass beat through downtown and over the river. My heart thrills to the sight and sound of a marching band leading a parade, but usually parades are either sad bedraggled processions or insufferable bombardments of the cute and the cheerful… this, my friends, was a parade in the service of art, and the excitement was palpable as we danced and stumbled through downtown streets, as cars stopped and PICA volunteers dashed madly to and fro to make sure they stopped.
With all that anticipation, maybe it’s inevitable that the moment when Float arrived was a bit of an anticlimax. We watched and waited for something to happen as the bridge was raised, as a face-off between Float and a large boat filled with curious people (and at least one man with binoculars who was looking, tellingly, at the people on the bridge and not at the floating sculpture) seemed inevitable. For one fleeting moment I thought the boat was part of the performance, and would begin to shoot cannons of neon confetti at David Eckard as a declaration of war… but alas, the Prancing Dolphin or whatever it was called was what it appeared to be.
I couldn’t help thinking how incredible it would have been if the promise of David Eckard’s floating spectacle had paid off: if streams of fire had leapt from the sides, if music and a strange voice reciting Walt Whitman had boomed and echoed from the speakers, instead of trickling to our straining ears, and if each canoe was equipped with a Vegas-style showgirl, as the canoes themselves performed a choreographed canoe-dance routine. But I know how easy it is to make suggestions, and how hard it is to execute them, so I’ll just applaud the idea and applaud PICA for kicking TBA off with a spirit of celebration and anticipation. No one seemed disappointed as we made our way down from the bridge and over to the Works. It was a beautiful night, and for the first time since last year’s TBA I felt like I was in a city filled with artists and thinkers and dreamers (our state motto in action: thanks, PICA!) all eager to take in what TBA offers and talk about it afterwards over a beer and some slow motion butoh.
- Faith Helma