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Realize Bradenton's ArtSlam 2014


Realize Bradenton’s 4th annual ArtSlam event rocked Old Main Street Saturday. It started early, and rolled into the night like a cool stone, with 12 hours of live art and music and booths and galleries—all original, of course—and good vibrations and times for everyone who went. 


It was a good day. The Bradenton Herald reported an attendance of 15,000 people, which seems right—though, having been there all day, it’s hard to tell. The people came in great waves. I arrived around one-o’clock and by then it was hopping and bopping with total hustle and bustle. Everybody was digging everything. At the corner of Old Main & Manatee Avenue there was an electric Cadillac ELR covered in saran-wrap being painted by a team of local artists, and a good folk singer named Michael Miller playing on a big stage in the middle of 4th Avenue—and from that mad Caddie all the way down Old Main Street to McCabe’s Irish Pub on 3rd, there was no room for anyone to be bored with anything and everyone was stoked.



Rob Radacoy, a local musician who brought his young daughter downtown for the day told me that ArtSlam was fun for them both. “I like it here,” he said. “The exhibits are actually cool and my kid has a great time. I come every year.”


There was a wide array of art featured at ArtSlam—Keeping with the event’s traditions, much of it was live; though, this year, there was more of a focus on interactive installations that called for public participation. This made for a very cool scene: 

Down one little street in Bradenton so many people brought together, artists and everyone else, with no barrier. There was plenty to see and do, and it was good to bounce though it all and take everything in. 



You’d be watching an excellent band on the main stage, like the jazz-quartet from Del Couch Music Foundation, and something across the street would catch your eye and you’d wander over and find a group of students from Bayshore High helping people contribute to a large collage of painted scenes & images inspired by Downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk.


After digging that you’d be hard to miss the Spin Art installation presented by students from New College and IMG, which was another interactive exhibit and involved a spinning apparatus that used dripping paint and centripetal force to create unique works of art that participants could keep if they wanted to. 


From there you’d bop back through and stop again at the stage, kick around for a bit and then move up the street to Lakewood Ranch High School’s Green Earth station, which featured interactive sculptures of upcycled art designed to raise eco-awareness.



                                     Photo by Jennifer Glenfield

Just around the corner down Brickyard Alley was a 3D Chalk Art installation created by students from Manatee School for the Arts. They were sprawled all over the concrete, contorted, drawing a huge underwater themed three-dimensional floor mural, and other things too. Members of the Bradenton-based rock band A Gentlemen Army gave solo-acoustic performances back in the alley as well; they were very good. And beyond the music, there was also an installation called An Outdoor Gallery Event, which was a pop-up gallery that featured emerging regional artists.



Presented by TheVillageMagazine.net, Outdoor Gallery was an effort to reflect the force of young artists coming together to create a traditional gallery in a nontraditional space. Among the 15 artists showcased at Outdoor Gallery was Sarasota’s Samantha Drexelius, Tracey Wheeler and Tony Corbitt Jr., as well as Emily Miller, Laura Spencer and George Retkes of St. Petersburg. They are all young artists, and it was exciting to find their work on display and for sale at ArtSlam. 


In this regard, notions of exposure come to mind—chiefly the relationship between being exposed to something, and exposing it. All exposure is reciprocal, and Realize Bradenton’s ArtSlam creates an important kind of exposure that benefits this community greatly. For the goal is revitalization, and there can be no renaissance without the arts.




"Ladies Line Was Too Long" by Samantha Drexelius

oil on canvas 36X36

The last guitar chord rang out around 10 p.m., and shortly thereafter, the scene that was ArtSlam had become typical Downtown Bradenton Saturday night. But the impact The Art had on Old Main Street will certainly sustain, the way it always does. 










All images provided by Realize Bradenton except where noted.  


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