I put two press passes around my neck after getting ready last Saturday morning. I then walked out my door, got in my car, and traveled to downtown Columbia where the True/False Festival was happening. Well, that was after I stopped at the Chick-fil-a off of Stadium Blvd. to get breakfast.
Kenneth McFate was the first person I met. He is an older church-goer at the First Presbyterian Church. I was taking pictures outside the church of a red dragon (an art installment) that was “swimming in the grass” when I saw him walk up to a locked side door of the church. He stood there for a while, leaning on his cane and looking at the door.
“Are you okay sir?” I asked him. He was wondering when the early morning service was, but I assumed it was over or wasn’t happening. Either way, we walked around and then through the front door of the church. Nobody knew when the service was, but Mr. McFate sat down with me on a couch out of the way of the art installments and the crowd outside The Globe Theater.
“I have something to show you. I think you’ll appreciate it,” McFate told me.
He opened up a book with pictures of his family, and a woman; his wife. She passed away of Alzheimer’s last December. One of his three children, his daughter, made the booklet he showed me. He was looking for a church member that day to talk about doing a memorial for his wife.
“I’m just happy that somebody listened,” McFate said as we were departing. This set the tone for my day. This was one happy moment that led into the others, and I was overjoyed with getting to spend time with him.
Following this, I was granted permission to walk into the the Globe Theater to take pictures of the stainedglass since the movie was over inside, but I didn’t know what awaited me on the other side of the black curtains themselves. The director and producer of the film were answering questions as I was entering into the the unknown
“Shhhhhhhhhh!” hissed at me as I fumbled through curtains to get into The Globe Theater itself to take pictures of the stain glass inside.
I grabbed a seat with the questioners after disturbing peace, but my gaze was on the vivid colors of the stain glass behind us. The globe stained glass was clearest. I felt as if I could pick a place on the globe and actually be there.
All of 9th street from the blocked off area between Locust St. and Elm St. northward was a maze. I finally broke down and got myself a True/False guide.
Downtown was full of character. People were dressed up, people were being themselves, art was being itself, people were being themselves in art, and art allowed people to be people.
“It was like a zoo,” Julian Lewis said as he and his mom walked out of the black-lit Virtual Reality arcade at the Columbia Art League Studio. It was a zoo. It was close-quartered, and each exhibit was its own world within a smaller one.
“Go out and enjoy the day! Experience it while you can,” the man on the art council for Columbia Art League told me as I shook his hand before proceeding out the front door.
Alley A was full of neon lights too, and one challenged the way people viewed the world.
“ALL THAT IS REAL IS POSSIBLE.”
“ALL THAT IS REAL IS REAL.”
That’s what the sign flashed over and over again in a small section of Alley A, the entire day.
I pondered those words as I sat on the steps of Jesse Hall looking at Francis Quadrangle. All that I experienced was real. All that I experienced was possible. The festival may be over now, but I see artists on the streets everyday when I go to class, and I think to myself, “Do they know what’s real? Do they know what’s possible?”