FestiFools’ website gives the following “urgent health warning,” warning that those who suffer from “irritability, lethargy, phantom-limb pain, werewolf-limb pain, enuresis, senor wences, fever, persistent cough, dyslexia, affect a limp, problems with short-term membory, prickly sensation on back of neck and/or problems with short-term memory” may be suffering from “Artistic Expression Deficit Disorder(AEDD)” and says to “ask your doctor whether FestiFools may be right for you.”
FestiFools is a new local tradition – a gigantic public art spectacular created by members of the community and U of M students that kicks off Ann Arbor’s outdoor festival season. A non-profit production of the START Project, a University of Michigan Lloyd Hall Scholars Program initiative, FestiFools brings students and community volunteers together to create unique public art that is free and accessible to everyone. During FestiFools, Magnificent, huge, bizarre, politically incorrect human-powered paper-mache puppets join thousands of people frolicking about downtown for one fun-filled hour.
The idea for the festival was born when Mark Tucker, who teaches art at U of M began his professional artistic career for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade. While in this role, he traveled to Europe to learn the art of carta pesta (papier-mache) from esteemed float builders in Viareggio, Italy. Inspired by what he saw, Mark decided to see if this kind of creative energy could find an audience back home. In 2006, he teamed up with Shoshana Hurand, a former LHSP student, who saw the hands-on creation of public art as a great opportunity for people of different backgrounds to build relationships, learn from one another and make their voices heard by the world. The two set out to turn a whimsical idea into a reality. Starting with a class of 20 non-art majors in Mark’s LHSP “Art in Public Spaces” class, they went to work – welcoming students, community members and anyone looking for a chance to be creative and meet new people. Ann Arbor City Council member Margie Teall, Main Street Area Association leads Ellie Serras and Maura Thomson and Main Street Ventures co-owner Dennis Serras saw the wonderful potential of all this Foolishness and provided FestiFools with the initial support it needed to get off the ground.
The festival went to the streets on April 1, 2007 and was a resounding success with enormous paper mache creatures, stomp-like music courtesy of U of M student GROOVE and hundreds of participants from across the community. Don’t miss out on this sixth annual celebration of foolishness from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 1 on Main Street between William and Washington.
Also, be sure to check out the Full Moon event on March, 30 featuring luminous sculptures and shadowy figures. If that’s not enough foolishness for one year, you can’t miss Foolish Acts at the Blind Pig on March, 31 featuring Third Coast Kings, Appleseed Collective and a once in a lifetime performance as LMFA2O and The Funky Farmer break it down. For more information, visit festifools.org.