It is Saturday, September 30th. I follow the pulse of rock music jumbled with noon traffic in search of the seventh annual Rosewood Art & Music Festival. I find it tucked in a large parking lot between the Shandon neighborhood and bustling Rosewood Drive. It is a prime location in metropolitan Columbia, but a little hidden from plain sight. At the Apollo Stage on one side of the parking lot, a woman with a baby wrapped in a sling rhythmically recites her original poetry. Faint vibrations of indie folk music from the Dionysus stage ripple across the other side of the lot. From ten in the morning to ten in the evening, local musicians and poets of all genres step on both stages to share their talents and passions.
Identical white canopy tents bend slightly in the breeze, but underneath their domed tops lies an astounding variety of work from local artists. There are painters, sculptors, photographers, graphic designers, potters, publishers, jewelers; all hoping to showcase and sell their unique pieces. Many have even submitted their best work to be judged in the juried show. Devon Corley of Pickens County exhibits string instruments he constructed out of decorative cigar boxes. Melissa Herring from Columbia proudly displays her hand built pottery with jewel-toned glazes. The swirling, mystical trees in Brian Heckman’s paintings gain a lot of attention from visitors. Artists mingle and discuss each other's work, praising the laidback, creative atmosphere of the festival.
Amid the meandering maze of clean, white tents leans an electric Pepto-Bismol pink dumpster, “Paint Me!” dripping in black on each of its sides. Nearby brushes, sponges, and assorted bottles of paint rest on a card table smeared with rainbow colors. Everyone is drawn to this interactive piece: toddlers and their wary parents, men and women, young and old. Everyone wants to make their mark, whether it is their name, vibrant splatters or, in my case, a smiling, golden sun.
I continue to wander around the festival with the growing number of visitors. There is a diverse group of people here: neighborhood families pushing strollers, couples guiding excited dogs on leashes, seasoned and novice artists, and the occasional curious passerby. We share our thoughts about the variety of local art and bob to the music. The Rosewood Art & Music Festival is certainly not on the same scale as Coachella or Artisphere, but it satisfies the growing artistic community in Columbia, SC. By allowing locals to display their one-of-a-kind artistry, this festival supports and enriches the surrounding community. It exudes a certain relaxed intimacy and southern neighborliness that natives love, and you will too.