This weekend our sleepy little district turned into the most happening place to be in Vienna. Montmartre 2011, an art festival, took over my favourite park, bringing artists into the realm of real-world people. I had a tough time appreciating every piece of art but I relished the creative atmosphere. Dotted between exhibitions were live music performances of varying quality and style throughout each day. This guy for example, was singing twangy but convincing country songs punctuated with Austrian banter. His audience: a mix of other musicians, mothers and toddlers and people like me, the mildly stupefied.
There was some standard Viennese fare being sold on every corner with the odd specialty ‘restaurant-shack’ thrown in for good measure. I got one precious half-smile out of these wonderful people and moved on. Please note that Mozart can be featured proudly at a hot-dog stand only in Austria.
I sniffed my way to musty books and old suitcases and found myself in the glorious company of antique and vintage goods. I forgot to take pictures as I haggled over some doilies but had some interesting conversations with the shopkeepers about hand-painted porcelain, the history of lace and old clocks. When I say ‘conversations’, I really mean I smiled my way through large chunks of German and nodded every time I understood a word. A summer shower struck so I took a break from my haggling to stand under a tree eating something I couldn’t name, listening to Austrian indie-rock in English.
As the rain got heavier, every man, woman and child crowded under my tree and I enjoyed the camaraderie. That is, until I had more second-hand smoke than I could bear. I claimed this serene space as mine soon after and contemplated many
I did not stay long as the sun broke through and the sight of an undiscovered path beckoned me. I almost got distracted by the number of funny dogs along the way and imagined what they were thinking while their owner dragged them from one incense-filled stall to another on Route Hippie-Sticks.
Among the now common ‘ethno’ stores that crop up at every free admission event, I spotted some imagination. There were reinventions of the granny shopping cart being sold by an enthusiastic child which were hard to pass by without serious temptation.
There were several stalls of handmade goodness which inspired me to keep making things to share on Etsy and got my brain whirring about face-to-face sales opportunities. Nothing beats meeting the people who actually buy your stuff. Being able to have a conversation with a potential buyer instead of dishing out a one-size-fits-all description is the ideal. Doing my first custom orders recently have already changed the way I shop for myself, entering into discussions on specifics with someone just as passionate as I am to see my dream become a reality. This is what art in the park is all about; bringing back the conversation.