July 24-27 saw the annual BAM Arts fair, hosted by the Bellevue Arts Museum. Hundreds of local and national artists were featured, with traditions ranging through almost all of the visual arts, with history of the fair going back to even before the existence of the museum itself. Started in 1947, the fair has grown to become the largest arts fair in the Pacific Northwest.
Diverse artists from Oregon, California and as far as New York came to show their work to the thousands of excited art enthusiasts. One man was selling luxury playhouses for children, displaying one in the shape of a dragon. A photographer displayed an image that he traveled halfway across the globe to shoot.
One display that had a constant crowd was an artist selling moving sculptures, complicated machines that sent metal spheres down little tracks and over loops, through spinning wheels to arrive at the bottom only to be carted back to the top by an electric elevator.
One artist, Joshua Rodine, is a glass blower from Oregon. His technique, which uses a handheld torch to melt and bend his structures into shape, allows the creation of much more precise and intricate forms than traditional glass blowing. A white orb made of twisting interconnected glass pieces started out as individual rods. “I molded them into their current shape from the inside out,” Rodine said.
In the winter, Rodine is works to make pieces to sell in the summer. He spends the summer traveling from fair to fair, selling his wares to attendees. “The fairs are actually where I sell most of my higher end work,” Rodine said.
The artist responsible for the dragon-themed kid’s playhouse with custom dragon-themed furnishings inside to match spent 600 working hours, which would be two months of ten-hour days, to complete the project. A wooden jewelry artist took, in her words, “forever” to make a bracelet.
More than just visual arts were present at the fair. Various musicians performed throughout the weekend with an emphasis on international music, including an African drumming band and a brass band playing the drinking songs of Eastern Europe.
In addition to visual arts, food trucks and stands were present in two locations. Gyros, Philly cheesesteaks, skewered dipped fruit and scones were among the offerings presented.