North Park ready to party

By Joyell Nevins

North Park is getting ready to explode with a colorful mix of art and music, accompanied by refreshing craft beer and cocktails. It’s time for the 21st annual Festival of Arts in North Park, held on Saturday, May 20.

The festival, like North Park, has changed a lot in the last two decades. It has become the biggest festival in the neighborhood.

Street artists show off their talents (Photo by Maria Wiles)

The Festival of Arts, sponsored by North Park Main Street and San Diego County Credit Union, started 21 years ago as a modest Spring Arts Festival. It took over a few blocks and featured less than 20 vendors. This year, the festival sprawls over nine blocks and attracts about 40,000 attendees.

“This event began as a small arts fair in what was a much different community. The event grew each year and with the increasing popularity of North Park, it’s continued to expand,” said Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street.

Some of those expansions include more live music and craft beer samplings and a children’s activity zone.

Art comes alive

A plethora of art will be available for viewing and purchase. Enjoy booths of painting, photography, pottery and jewelry from North Park’s talented neighbors, including featured artist, graphic designer and calligrapher Channin Fulton.

Thanks to the efforts of the contemporary local gallery The Studio Door, there will also be a juried exhibition called “Gallery in the Street.” The street gallery — literally — will be on University Avenue and Iowa Street.

Art, music, food, beer and fun await (Photo by Maria Wiles)

Meet the participating artists in two special receptions during the festival at 2 and 7 p.m.

If you want to see art happening, head down to Herman Avenue. The gallery and art supply store Urban Contemporary Art has assembled some of San Diego’s most renowned street artists for live painting and a pop-up exhibition that goes until 8 p.m.

Aleck Christian, Brisk, Bink, Don’t Trip, Eyegator, Jason Gould, mrbbaby, MR DVICE, Maxx Moses and others will be contributing their skills, painting big canvas and designing art using everyday objects like cars, refrigerators and boom boxes (no idea where they got a hold of one of those!). FeeLit Records and Wats Today? are providing the soundtrack for this hip art in action.

“The creativity in North Park is boundless and I personally can’t wait to see what this year brings,” said Teresa Halleck, president and CEO of San Diego County Credit Union.

For those of legal age, craft cocktails will be sold from noon to 9:30 p.m. in the West Coast Cocktail Garden overlooking the art block. The garden is sponsored by West Coast Tavern, with cocktails provided by Cutwater Spirits.

More music

Just as the art comes in a range of styles, so does the music. Listen to indie rock, blues, funk, dance and rock ‘n’ roll from four stages, along with children’s entertainment and even karaoke.

Dozens of local craft beer companies participate (Photo by Maria Wiles)

On the Main Stage at 30th Street and University Avenue, the Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out will be headlining in the afternoon. Music critics have anointed these locals as “the next best thing to Johnny Cash.”

Stick around for some soul music and then international “cross-pollination” with The B-side Players, headlining the night. The nine-piece band pulls beats from across their homelands, incorporating funk, rock, jazz and hip-hop rhythms from Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and Brazil. They refer to themselves as a “living, breathing, cultural art experience.”

One of the stages, located on Illinois Street, is dedicated to the world of dance. Performances go from ballet to belly dancing to Bollywood.

Near the cocktail garden, spin it with several well-known deejays including headliners Miles Maeda and DJ Collete.

Inside Queen Bee on Ohio Street, the stage will be a haven for rock from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Kids Art Block on Grimm Street will have a stage for music and dance. Children also have the opportunity to participate in art projects designed to stimulate their imaginations.

Always, always beer

On Ohio Street, from noon-4 p.m. or 4-8 p.m., one ticket gets the attendee unlimited samples from more than 30 local craft brewers in the Waypoint Public Craft Beer Block. Established breweries and up-and-comers will both be represented.

Karaoke will also be available inside the craft beer block, in case you’re moved by that liquid courage.

For more information visit

—Joyell Nevins is a local freelance writer. Reach her at or follow her blog “Small World, Big God” at

One Comments

  1. …and a fantastic time we had too! Gallery in the Street was an fun addition to this year’s Festival. Hope to bring it back next year.

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