Artists provide backbeat for annual jazz festival

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Arrow Oswald and his grandmother, Peg, watch Ashtonn Means turn a pot at the display set up by The Art Center at the Downtown Art & Jazz Festival on Sunday. Dozens of artisans and creators of fine art showed their work along Main Street in downtown Grand Junction during the three-day event.

New Orleans it was not, but for one weekend downtown Grand Junction was immersed in art and jazz.

The Downtown Grand Junction Art & Jazz Festival wrapped up Sunday afternoon with artists, musicians and fans of either — or both — mingling on Main Street between Third and Seventh streets.

By 11 a.m., people already were getting into the swing of things as local band Influx provided the sound track to the start of the final day of the three-day event.

Between the main stage and the far end of the festival, hundreds of people walked around on the warm and sunny Mother’s Day.

Local jeweler Kathleen Huston participated in her fifth Art & Jazz Festival and said people were eyeing and buying bright earrings and necklaces more than anything else.

“The worse the economy, the brighter the color,” Huston said of accessory selection.

In addition to dozens of artisans and creators of fine art at this year’s event, novice artists got a chance to participate through the inaugural Main Street Art School sponsored by the Commission on Arts and Culture, the Oakley Gallery and the Grand Valley Art Students League.

Artists of all levels and all ages enrolled in $5 lessons taught by experienced artists in everything from bookmaking to abstract acrylics.

Sara Alyn Oakley of Oakley Gallery said the response was overwhelmingly positive in the first year. Instructors taught an estimated 130 lessons Saturday and Sunday, but that number could have topped 200 had they had more time, she added.

“We hope to do this every year,” Oakley said.

John Petefish, 9, took a beginning drawing lesson Sunday, sketching a pear before shading it with a vine charcoal pencil.

“It can be my Mother’s Day present,” John said.

This year’s Art & Jazz Festival began Friday at 4 p.m., but the buzz this year started much earlier — literally.

A swarm of 15,000 to 20,000 bees was spotted midday Friday along Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, said “Bee” Bob Hasse, a Grand Valley bee expert called to the scene to move the swarm to a safer location.

Although Hasse could not confirm whether the bees arrived early for a front-row seat to the weekend’s jazz concerts, he did confirm it was quite the sight 35 feet above the ground Friday.

“The vast majority of people probably have never seen a swarm and heard this ball of thousands of bees,” he said.

Bees are “usually extremely gentle” during the reproductive swarming time of year because they are away from their home hives, Hasse said. However, the sight can be alarming for people unfamiliar with bee behavior, particularly those with allergies.

With that in mind, the swarm was safely vacuumed up and moved to a Redlands hive Friday afternoon, Hasse said Sunday.


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