Ahh, Moisture (Festival, that is…)

Posted in NW Arts, Photography at 6:04 pm by Michelle

When I’m not running around in my little white van snapping away with my Holgas, I’m often in the company of delightfully wacky performers in a variety of contexts. I’ve been photographing the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade since 1994, attending the Oregon Country Fair almost as long, and in recent years have become photographer for both the New Old Time Chautauqua and the Moisture Festival. OK, you probably don’t know what these are, or aren’t sure that you want to. But really, this is fun stuff – a resurgence of a type performance that used to be Americans’ main source of entertainment – traveling variety & vaudeville shows.

New Old Time Chautauqua has been around for over 30 years, taking performers on the road around the Northwest (sometimes Alaska, and the Gulf Coast in 2006) doing *free* parades, workshops and shows in little towns that don’t usually get much in the way of arts. It was born out of the community of the Oregon Country Fair, with the Flying Karamazov Brothers leading the way – they still come along on most of the tours. See my photos of the Big Sky Tour and the Gulf Coast Jambalaya Tour.

The Moisture Festival has taken these performers, and now others from all over the world, to become the longest festival in Seattle, and the biggest vaudeville festival in the world. In its 6th year, it has reached the point where all the shows sell out, and performers from everywhere beg to come to be part of the family, to commune with other performers, and perform to loving and enthusiastic audiences. This year there were almost 40 shows, mostly at Hale’s Palladium in Fremont/Ballard, with one weekend, which included burlesque shows, at ACT Theater. For the first time this year, SIFF Cinema hosted a series of related films during the festival, with live performances introducing each film. See some of my photos from 2007 and 2008. My 2009 photos here, and a collection by all three MF photographers here!
Moisture Festival logo

I love working with these people, making images that both help the performers further their careers and delight in their own right. I’ll be showing prints of some of these images for the first time this spring and summer in the Northwest – stay tuned! See a selection of photos on my website.

love & art,