Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Arts Festival Aims to Get Away from the Traditional - Washington, DC

by LAURA MANSILLA, Staff Writer
(Created: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:14 AM EDT)

Christine Stoddard is the organizer of the Neo-Indie Arts Festival, which will take place July 26 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center.
Many teens possess copious raw creative talent, but the opportunities to display it seem few and far between.

The Neo-Indie Arts Festival, which will take place on Saturday, July 26 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, hopes to change this.

Sponsored by Simply Lark Press, the festival is an alternative media outlet, and will feature the work and performances of local teens. Registration is still open to those who want to submit their art or sign up to perform their music.

Admission will be free, although participants are encouraged to bring spending money for the various jewelry and crafts that will be available.

“I noticed that there wasn't a festival that catered to underground arts or [was] geared towards teenagers. This is, hopefully, a way to highlight and emphasize some of their work,” said Christine Stoddard, an interdisciplinary artist and president of Simply Lark Press, who co-founded the festival along with Daly Martinez.

Stoddard dreamed up the idea for the festival while she was, appropriately, in an art class at Grinnell College.

“I tend to brainstorm a lot, and just thought, ‘Why not?'” she said.

Stoddard immediately contacted her friend, Martinez, who thought it was a great idea, and the idea began to evolve over time.

However, making the idea a reality wasn't easy. Funding was the biggest issue for the duo to face, as money for printing and advertising was difficult to obtain.

Finding a location to hold the event also proved problematic. But Stoddard and Martinez contacted local businesses and schools, and arrangements finally were made. The festival, which started out as a mere daydream, had become an actual event.

Highlights of the festival will include a Battle of the Bands, a 'zine-making workshop and a marketplace, which will feature alternative and do-it-yourself crafts.

“We're trying to get away from traditional, mainstream art to emphasize what is underground and interesting - even radical,” Stoddard said.

A fashion show also is in the works, depending on whether or not a sufficient number of designers contributes to the festival. And for those who want to grab a bite to eat, local students will be selling food as part of a fund-raiser.

From what Stoddard has seen, Arlington doesn't have a defined and consolidated art scene, compared to bigger cities like New York or Chicago. This is why it is so important for Arlington to emphasize the talent of its young people, she said.

Although the focus is on the younger set, the festival is open to people of all ages and welcomes the attendance of families.

“We want this to become a tradition,” says Stoddard. “So, I plan to hand out surveys and include a raffle drawing, as well. There is no way to gauge how many people will show up, but if we have at least one hundred, I'd be willing to try again.”

For more information on the festival or to register as an artist or performer, contact Stoddard at

Copyright © 2008 Suburban Washington Newspapers Inc.

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