Since it was started in the early fifties, the Boardwalk Art Show has been all about art and artists. It used to feature mostly local and regional artists, and mostly painters, at that. But while there are still some local and regional artists participating in the show, the majority of participants these days are members of a loose company of artists who travel up and down the coast during the warm months setting up their tents at a new show every week or so. They stay with friends and in cheap motels and pray for good weather so that the crowds will be big enough to give them a fighting chance of earning back their expenses. In the winter a lot of them return to small towns in Florida.
The show also includes a wider mix of art forms these days, and a host of commercial exhibitors. I’m still trying to figure out, for example, why there’d be a booth for a company that installs bathroom tub inserts at an art show. (I guess there’s no wrong target audience for that business.) The show is a benefit for the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, though, so we fans agree to look the other way when it comes to exhibitors whose commercial interests seem out of place but which pay the bills.
Another thing this year—in what I think may even have been a first for the Boardwalk Art Show—the show’s organizers brought in an attraction. Spread for almost eleven thousand square feet of beach was Amococo, an inflated plastic labyrinth of passageways, skylights and colors. I heard people say it reminded them of being inside a piece of Chihuly glass art. But for me it recalled nothing more than the 1960s movie The Fantastic Voyage, a now laughably simplistic bit of science fiction about a submarine shrunk so small that it can navigate the passages of the human body and save the life of a famous diplomat.
I’m intrigued by the idea of Amococo, even though it seems a little more like a carnival attraction than a piece of art; sort of an adult inflatable trampoline house without the trampoline. I would like to have gone into Amococo, too. But the line was long, the day was hot and, to be honest, I’d left my wallet with the necessary $3 admission fee back in the car.
You can see more about Amococo here.