November 05, 2005



According to The Rocky Mountain News, sombreros are now part of an alternative arts lifestyle. (The above photo of Ben does should not infer that Beno, nor that particular sombrero, is represented by this story.)

Party on board

Part cult attraction, part carpool, art bus makes rounds of galleries with offbeat crew

"It feels good not to wear a shirt," says the man attired in nothing but briefs and a sombrero.

He's sitting next to me, happily chatting away, and I'm trying to act cool, like I've spent my life riding buses filled with shirtless, sombrero-wearing men.

Across the aisle, a burly, bearded passenger (sporting a magenta, cream and orange tutu covered by a lacy, black robe that looks like it came straight out of a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog), leans out the window with a megaphone.

"Jesus saves, but Gretzky scores," he yells to surprised bystanders on the street.

My new bare-chested sidekick is hoping for a more enthusiastic reaction.

"Sometimes people flash us," he says hopefully, staring out the window.

But when we pass a fire station, the strapping men outside simply wave, staring with broad smiles at the roof of our vehicle, where costume-clad revelers shake their booties to a live band pounding out a hypnotically alluring beat.

I find myself waving back, proud to be part of this mobile spectacle.

This is one ride I'd been eager to take.

I had spent months trying to figure out how to catch the art bus, an eclectic party on wheels that makes the rounds to local art galleries on the first Friday of the month when gallery owners typically extend their hours.

Painted silver, retrofitted with a steel, rooftop canopy and filled with art lovers seeking a counterculture experience, the refurbished school bus is designed to attract attention.

"We're breaking the homogeny," explains veteran rider Dmitry, who - like many art bus regulars - asks to be identified by only his first name. "These days, people get their culture from what's sold to them on TV."

Many of the passengers are "burners" - devotees of Burning Man, the hedonistic art festival held in the Nevada desert every summer. Burning Man is a spectator-free zone devoted to self-expression, and Dragon Daud, the performance artist who owns the bus and leads the monthly art tours, strives for the same.

"Each month, expression is encouraged to convey a theme through costume, performance, music or any other media," writes Daud in his e-mails announcing the event, known formally as Art@Art. "Your 100 percent participation is needed for this project to succeed."

Daud bought the bus as a birthday present for himself in May 2000, with the intention of using it as a community resource. The idea to use the bus for art-gallery outings came out of an early trek to Burning Man.

Speaking of sombreros and seasonal festivals, I saw this for sale at Dillard's last night:


It's beginning to look a lot like sombrero Christmas.

Posted by Jeff at November 5, 2005 09:04 PM

If Santa starts wearing the sombrero and drinking margarita's, we're NEVER going to get any presents.

Posted by: Laura at VitaminSea at November 6, 2005 03:57 PM
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