Something in the Air - Page 3

How the Eichlers of San Jose transformed an impromptu art-filled happening into the ambitious Fairglen Art Festival
Something in the Air
Something in the Air
Puppet shows were a popular feature, drawing big crowds.
Something in the Air
Posters (this one from 1974) promoting the festival became collector's items.

This interest inspired Maggie to bring out more and more of her work. She displayed some on her garage door and the wooden fence that ran along the street just outside our cul-de-sac, and others, including sculpture and pottery, on rickety card tables in her driveway. Her efforts radiated a spirit that whispered, "Hey, you can do this too."

Maggie's oddments brought the neighbors out, including other artists and creative hopefuls who wanted to join in the fun. Les Lambson dragged his potter's wheel onto the driveway and showed the neighborhood children how to form a pot and magically shape a vase. He also demonstrated his Asian-inspired painting technique to all who strolled by.

More and more neighbors pulled their artistic creations into the street or hung them on garage doors and fences. It was as if static electricity had suddenly charged the atmosphere. The neighbors and passersby studied the details of each display as they strolled the streets with their arms folded behind them like ice skaters.

They must have known something special was happening. They felt it in the air. It was a carnival without the Tilt-a-Whirl. It was New Year's Eve without confetti.

But in reality, it was the dead of summer—and someone had parked an old jalopy in the middle of the cul-de-sac for neighborhood kids to climb on. And a sign draped from its hood read 'Art in Our Alley.'

During the summer of 1963, even more artists took part in the fair's festivities. The exhibits filled Fairgrove Court and spilled down the street onto the adjacent blocks. Fences and garage doors became open-air galleries. Driveways became exhibit halls. Musicians carried out various instruments to the front yard and began to play.

It was no longer an art festival in an 'alley'—our cul-de-sac; the artists and activities now stretched over to the Fairglen Avenue thoroughfare towards Fairwood Avenue, the neighborhood's longest street.

Soon rechristened the Fairglen Art Festival, our art-filled happening returned each summer, for one Sunday in June. From word-of-mouth, and with each passing year, the event continued to flourish.

Not only did a unique variety of artwork find a home at this show, but neighborhood garage bands performed, folksingers strummed guitars, dancers whirled in the driveways, local cooks grilled hot dogs and shish-kebabs on barbeque grills, resident weavers wove their looms, and welders spliced metal fragments into abstract shapes.

Keep in touch with the Eichler Network. SUBSCRIBE to our free e-newsletter