Fever Festival 2012: A Diamond in the Rough

"Besa Me" by Deanna Santiago
"Besa Me" by Deanna Santiago
Photos by Altamese Osborne

On May 13, officials found 49 dead bodies in trash bags in a large hole in Monterrey, Mexico, 75 miles from the U.S. border. "It did something to me," Sarita Ackerman, owner of Sarita Ackerman Modern and Contemporary Art, said. "I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to say something about it."

Ackerman created a large-scale installation, which she planned to show at a standard exhibition opening. The installation would be part of a series about the ongoing conflict between the U.S. and Mexican border. "There's a lot of violence that's not really reported. A lot of my art reflects that."

"That's all I was gonna do," she added of the installation.

When Ackerman started telling people about the upcoming show, they suggested she invite other artists. Then they suggested she invite bands. The owner of Orange Warehouse saw her vision and invited her to host it at his venue, and Fever Festival 2012, a three-day showcase of art, fashion and music, was born.

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Maybe it was the temperamental temperature, climbing up to triple digits Friday and Saturday and back down Sunday for yet another summer deluge. Maybe it was the long line of construction blocking most of Harrisburg Boulevard, the street where the festival took place. Or maybe it was the fact that the Fever Festival was the first of its kind. Whatever the case, if you weren't at Fever Festival (which many of you weren't), you missed out on a jewel of a show.

"The inside is a gallery show. The outside tents are local vendors selling their art," explained Ackerman.

While the outside vendors sat listlessly in a country-style backyard field, the main building, a funhouse-looking wooden structure, housed the jewel of the event - a collection of works by 17 artists, including Ackerman, that could have easily been on the walls at MFAH.

It was déjà vu stumbling upon Chandana Paravastu's paintings after discovering them at Public House a few days before, and her "Pressed Flower" mixed media on canvas piece didn't disappoint, reminding us of her penchant for generous uses of bold colors. "Cold Front and Desire," an oil on canvas piece by Palmer Edmundo Mena, was a gumbo of colors that looked like sunrise and sunset all at once. Ursula Andreeff's three pieces, "Zel Maturin," "Sex and Harmony" and "Hieroglyphics," departed from the normal "on canvas" display, with eclectic, Egyptian-like acrylic painted onto guitars, and the subject of Deanna Santiago's "Besa Me" acrylic on canvas could have been a member of the Blue Man Group, had they ever decided to add a pretty blue woman to their ranks. Ackerman's own retro-inspired pieces in pretty pinks and baby blues hung smartly near the opening of the building. It was a shame that more people weren't there to see this diverse and dazzling group of art and artists.

Sarita Ackerman Modern and Contemporary Art is not a traditional gallery, but a studio for her and four artists who create murals, faux finishings, photography, collage art and oil and acrylic paintings, mostly for interior designers. The artists also make jewelry and handbag accessories. Ackerman, who has been an artist for 20 years, said she opened the space and enlisted the help of the artists because servicing interior designers and their clients got to be an incredibly busy endeavor. The space is now in its second year of operation, and just as her young studio is growing, Ackerman remains optimistic about the future of the Fever Festival -- and the artists involved.

"I'm hoping that every artist here is successful. I want them to really have a following, to have people appreciate their art and have a place to showcase their art."

Sarita Ackerman Modern and Contemporary Art can be found at 7320 Ashcroft Drive, Suite 209, Houston, TX 77081. For more information, visit saritaackerman.com.


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