It was hard to describe the eclectic gallery and boutique, Revelry, as a “space” on Saturday, Feb. 18, because there was so little of it. Yes, the reception was cool as it was hot.
With the buzz of Forecastle X in the room, there was a lively mix of local friends, fans, volunteers, merchants, artists and sponsors who have supported J.K. McKnight over the past decade in his sea-worthy dream of a successful music, art and activism festival.
Surrounded by art, jewelry, gifts and other eclectic wares, the crowd was there to see one image in particular – the official Forecastle poster for 2012, but that didn’t keep visitors from ringing up purchases while waiting.
By 8:00 in the evening, the room was swept up in the anticipation of the new Jeff Gaither creation that would set the countdown into motion for July 13 – 15 in Louisville’s Waterfront Park.
The unveiling brought on a wave of praise and applause which slowly tapered off as everyone stood back to take in the ship and its billowing Fleur de Lis sails as it floated in calm waters…just below a royal (if not mind-altering) octopus and framed by the ornate, briny fantasy of Gaither’s imagination.
The style of the Forecastle posters summon dark comic ink, treasure map parchment and a certain alt-maritime message. Each year features a new vessel in the water, sky and beyond. and have become quite the collector’s item.
A work still in progress, the towering black and white illustration took on the appearance of a gigantic Forecastle coloring book page.
“It’s not in color…yet,” Gaither stated moments before the big reveal. “The work has been so intense that I just need to take a break, stand back for a while. Then, I’ll bring in the color.”
It will be worth the wait.
On the wall just behind Gaither is the vintage Forecastle poster,from its first year created by J.K. It’s well, rustic and hip but definitely home-made. “Just so everyone knows, Jeff did not do that first poster,” McKnight admitted to the gathering and got the biggest laugh of the night.
One can see the growth of the festival in the progression of Gaither’s posters through the past decade. Many followers of the festival gazed into the different years, going over the lists of performing artists etched around the tall masts and rudder of each ship. My first Forecastle experience was land-locked. Cherokee Park, 2005 and I’ve gone every year since.
As always, Forecastle is a family affair. Sister and Revelry co-owner Mo McKnight greeted visitors, Forecastle’s First Parents, mom Ellen McKnight and pop Kelly McKnight (dressed from togie to toe in black with an event security T-shirt), celebrated alongside the Captain himself, John Kelly, whose birthday party would begin just down the block to Monkey Wrench after the poster party rolled up.
JK refers to the festival fans as travelers, in keeping with the theme of adventure and discovery. So far, it’s been quite a journey and now he’s ready to board again.
See you at the river’s edge in July. Check festival updates on www.forecastlefest.com