Dreaming on Elm Avenue: Arts fest comes to East Waco this weekend

Essex Junction, Vt., senior Travis Tarver will exhibit two paintings, including "Sleep Painting 2 (red)" on Saturday at Art on Elm. Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

A day of music, food and art awaits Waco at the Art on Elm pop-up art exhibition Friday and Saturday. The event is kicking off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Brazos Event Center on Elm Avenue with Splash on the Color, a preview of the artists and their work. The full event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and will take place along Elm Avenue. Tickets for Splash on the Color are $15, but the Saturday event is free to the public.

The majority of the festival will be held outside, with street vendors and exhibits set up along the road. However, there will be an artists exhibition in the Brazos Event Center and a small indoor open mic event with the Waco Poets Society at 418 Elm Ave. There is also an indoor youth art exhibit at 713 Elm Ave.

The original idea for Art on Elm was to bring attention to it and bring people to Elm Avenue,” said Claire Sexton, the artist coordinator for Art on Elm Avenue. “We want to tell people there’s nothing scary about East Waco. It’s just a little main street. Come have a look and visit other times as well.”

The artists are mostly from the Waco area, although there are some who come from as far as Pflugerville.

“We have over 30 artists participating, so we are extremely pleased about that,” said Doreen Ravenscroft, president of the Waco Cultural Arts Fest and overseer of the Art on Elm Avenue exhibition.

Among the artists exhibiting is Essex Junction, Vt., senior Travis Tarver, who is a studio art student at Baylor. Two of his paintings, including “Sleep Painting 2 (red),” a piece in oil, wax and sand on canvas, will be on display at the exhibit.

“I love the opportunity that Baylor provides, giving student on-campus exhibitions, but it’s really encouraging to get outside of the educational sphere. That is what I will physically be doing: submitting to galleries that don’t know me or teach me,” Tarver said.

Sexton said the exhibits will mostly be of acrylic and oil paintings, but there will also be glasswork, drawings and some sculpture.

There will be several food trucks at Art on Elm, but the focus will be on vendors who will cook and serve food on the street.

“There will be pork rib and possibly brisket,” Ravenscroft said. “Rufi’s Cocina is going to cook out on the street. We are trying to create the smell of food on the street and show the cooking of food on the street.”

In addition to the sights and smells, Art on Elm will cater some local sounds for art-goers. Waco-based cover band Venus Envy will play at the event for the fourth year in a row. DJ Batman, who has mixed for KLMT in Marlin, as well as with Power 94.5 in Hearne, will also perform. The music stage will be in the center of Peach Street, right at the heart of the festival.

“The music is all outside,” Ravenscroft said. “We hope to have some street dancing, some pop-up dancing and some other pop-up art things happening.”

Art on Elm Avenue was started five years ago by NeighborWorks Waco, a nonprofit organization focused on helping first-time home buyers become responsible homeowners. The nonprofit’s goal was building and revitalizing neighborhoods, and hosting an art exhibition seemed like a great way to do that. The event is now managed by the Waco Cultural Arts Fest in collaboration with the local community. The event is meant to further development in urban areas, as well as display the rich diversity of art that Waco has to offer.

In addition to art exhibits, there will be vendors to browse through and free activities for the public. Ravenscroft said signature wooden houses made from recycled wood will be available for painting. The festival will also have a station for making musical instruments out of cardboard tubes and pebbles or beans.

“A lot of these artists are able to exhibit here and there, but to bring it all to one place and get a variety of things lets you see what is local or if there is anything that you like,” Sexton said. “I think it’s just a nice way to bring everything to one place.”