HOLD FAST: Navigating the Festival Circuit During This Weekend’s Cultural Marathon
August is an exciting time to be in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Let’s see, you’ve got George Street Fest, the Folk Festival in Bannerman Park, the Downtown Busker Festival, Shed Island, HOLD FAST and even more that I am probably forgetting, or maybe haven’t heard of yet. You might as well call August festival month in St. John’s, and I think we all know why each of these fantastic events takes place in August – it is easily the least depressing month to be a Newfoundlander. Summer is short here, and there is no question that when the sun comes out, we opt to make the best of it, even if that includes destroying our bodies and sacrificing sobriety to attend a major event every weekend in August, running a literal marathon of cultural events. August in St. John’s is no stranger to marathons, and this year will mark the 16th anniversary of the 24 Hour Art Marathon, sort of.
HOLD FAST is the latest incarnation of the much loved and long-standing 24 Hour Art Marathon, which in recent years has been known simply as ‘The Art Marathon.’ The description of HOLD FAST from the Eastern Edge website describes this year’s festival as “building on the energy of [the] previous festivals,” and from looking at the events listed for this year’s fest, there is no doubt that HOLD FAST will be an undeniably impressive celebration of the arts.
This year’s downtown Art Crawl will be host to some very intriguing events such as Can Crusher by Robert Hengeveld, and projected video installations at the George Street stage, Gallery 24 and in the artist studios at 177 Water Street.
Also taking place during the Art Crawl is MAYBE, PROBABLY – “a curated exhibition and zine publication.”
Curator Allison Graves told me that “MAYBE, PROBABLY is a groovy art and literary exhibition that explores people’s interactions with technology and social media. People can expect art hung with a lot of magnets and also love. They can expect a keg of beer and enlightening commentary on modern life.”
Allison also mentioned that herself and fellow curator Amery Sandford are relatively new to the island, and believe it’s “imperative to understand and share what that transition has been like. MAYBE, PROBABLY is a name and idea that was encouraged by the resilience of the arts community in St. John’s. Most ‘maybe’s’ followed by a ‘probably.'”
Allison went on to say that herself and Amery “have curated an event that we find to be very stimulating given our continued interest in technology and more specifically technology in small places. What does this mean for geographic isolation. What does this mean for Newfoundland? How do we stay connected in small places and big ones too? We don’t know. But we’ll maybe, probably find out.”
Keeping in line with the spirit of the August festival circuit in St. John’s, anyone who collects Festival Passport stamps at each Art Crawl event gets $5 off at Shed Island’s event at The Ship Pub, featuring Crosss, Unreal Thought, MAANS and Bleu. Because every event of HOLD FAST is free to attend, it quite literally pays to go on the Art Crawl and take it all in.
HOLD FAST will also be host to “a brand new and improved art ‘marathon’: the Art Sprint.” This is “a seven-hour live event featuring artists of all ages, levels of experience, and backgrounds as they participate in seven lively art challenges.” This event which is reminiscent of the 24 Hour Art Marathons of yore will definitely speak to the high adrenaline dash that the festival has become known for. If you attend the Art Sprint, you will also get a first look at some of the works which will be auctioned off at the closing exhibition at Eastern Edge. This exhibition will host a silent auction, giving members of the public a chance to bring a piece of the festival home with them, supporting this amazing festival, and the artists who participate in it.