Color and funk

By Tori Hahn

North Park’s arts festival keeps growing

North Park will celebrate its 20th Festival of Arts this year on Saturday, May 21 with a variety of funky art from local artists.

The free and family-friendly event will take over eight city blocks in North Park and feature vendors, food, local art and live music across six stages. All proceeds from the festival will benefit North Park Main Street.

Attendees will be able to enjoy a live art walk, in which local graffiti artists will paint non-traditional objects such as dumpsters, refrigerators and trucks.

Michelle Currier’s featured artwork appears on Festival of Arts posters around North Park (Photo courtesy of North Park Main Street)

Michelle Currier’s featured artwork appears on Festival of Arts posters around North Park (Photo courtesy of North Park Main Street)

Michelle Currier, a Poway native, is this year’s featured artist. Her vibrant pop art-style paintings exhibit bright colors and draw inspiration from famous pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The piece that earned her the “featured artist” title is a single subject painting of a woman boasting of deep blues, greens and reds. The piece, along with the rest of her paintings, doesn’t have a name.

“It’s … a type of painting that when I was doing it, it just sort of felt — it’s hard to explain — it just sort of clicked,” she said.

The UCSD alumna attributes her passion for bold colors to her childhood spent in San Diego.

“San Diego definitely has some very artsy communities,” she said. “Growing up in San Diego, every weekend you’re going somewhere new and you’re seeing different pieces of work and being inspired by everything around you.”

The 23-year-old said that apart from working in a couple showcases in the past, headlining the art portion of the Festival of Arts is the biggest role she’s received as an artist.

“I’ve never had anything quite like this before,” she said. “I was looking at the other … pieces of artwork that were submitted and everyone was so talented, so it’s really quite an honor and very flattering that I’m the featured artist.”

In the festival’s music scene, local band Vokab Kompany will co-headline with Steve Poltz and Mariachi El Bronx.

The group, which varies from a six- to 10-piece accompaniment, is comprised of four full-time members, including vocalists Rob Gallo and Matt Burke, keyboardist Geoff Nigl and saxophonist John Avery. Additional band members — Tyler Olson (drums), Vikingo Burkhiser (bass) and Richard Galiguis (guitar) — join for live performances.

On their website, Vokab Kompany defines their style of music as “genre-defying” that leaves its audiences in a “musical stupor.”

“It’s grown into a live hip-hop, funk, soul, electronic mashed-up musical composition I guess you could say,” Gallo said. “So you get a full smorgasbord of music when we do our shows.”

May 21 will be the first-ever Vokab Kompany performance in North Park. Although the band members live locally, Gallo said they usually avoid playing shows in the area so as not to “over-saturate” it.

“When we do play a San Diego show, we want our friends and family to be excited about it,” Gallo said.

Attendees of the North Park Festival of Arts can watch Vokab Kompany perform at 6:45 p.m. on the Main Stage, located on University Avenue between 30th Street and Ray Street.

New to the festival this year is longer hours: Festivities will last from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — a four-hour extension from last year’s 6 p.m. curfew.

“We used to have people here until 6 p.m. and it would be really hard to get them off the streets,” said Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street. “This year we decided ‘Nobody really wants to go home. Let’s not make them go home.’”

Another addition will be a DJ and cocktail lounge on Illinois Street, which Landsberg described as a family-friendly environment during the day and at a place where people can “sit, relax, listen to some great DJ music and, at night, have a cocktail.”

Festivalgoers who are 21 and older can also participate in the Waypoint Craft Beer Block, which features unlimited tasting from more than 30 craft brewers. Two sessions — one from noon to 4 p.m. and another from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. — will be accessible for $30 tickets each.

For more information about North Park Festival of Arts, visit

—Tori Hahn is an intern with SDCNN who recently graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in journalism.

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