I was going to call this post “Art on the Streets”, but then you might have thought it was going to be about eye-bending chalk drawings (which are awesome in their own right). It’s not.
Most of the memorable interactions I’ve had with artists happened not during studio tours or at “intimate” concerts—though those are great—but rather while I was out and about. Just a few weeks ago, for example, Stephanie and I did a double-take and retraced our steps through the Toronto subway tunnels when we caught the first notes of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” (a.k.a. “Teenage Wasteland”), which was being played on a bass oboe by a hepcat busker.
Canada is excited about buskers. There are annual busker festivals (imminent ones!) in Ottawa, Toronto, Victoria, St. John’s, Kingston, Waterloo, Windsor, Barrie (just missed this one though), and—perhaps most notably—the International Busker Festival in Halifax (where I live now). Busking is also a regular affair in Vancouver and Montreal (no surprise) and in many cities it accompanies other events (such as Fringe festivals)—so don’t think that your city is missing out if you’re not on that meagre list. Canada Day (July 1st) is also a big day for busking and street theatre.
One of my persistent favourites as far as “street” artists go is Improv Everywhere, a group of clever pranksters from New York City. I could spend hours reading their “Mission Highlights” (I defy you to to keep a smile off your face during “Spontaneous Musicals” or to be unimpressed by “The Moebius”).
Finally, if Yeasayer’s “take-away” show (on Blogotheque)—both part one and part two—don’t remind you that art is alive and often interactive, then I don’t know what will. In fact the whole idea of a “take-away show” is pretty foot-stompingly uplifting.