Justin Galvin and I technically went to school together for a year before he moved away. I was in sixth grade. I knew of him only because I had a huge, huge crush on his sister.* In fact, I am about to share a story I have never uttered to a single person, but one that has been with me since sixth grade.
It was the last day of school in a building that would no longer serve as a middle school. There was no small degree of chaos and don’t give a fuck in the air. The building itself had no windows, except those that were at the entrance. The classrooms were largely divided off by retractable walls. The lockers were in a pit, with two sets of stairs leading to two sides. If there was not a teacher around, you get get away with just about anything in the locker pit; and even if there were a teacher around, their sight lines were minimal. On this day, I honestly think all the teachers were in the back getting drunk, or had already done gone home.
As I was walking from the gym, I heard what was distinctly flesh slapping up against a locker. I knew that from having had my own face shoved into those lockers more than once. As I looked down into the pit, I saw Justin’s sister making out with a guy; she was slapping the locker above her head, presumably because the kiss was that intense.
Think about that. A locker slappin’ good kiss.
I’ve never been able to shake that image and I don’t want to; it has been a standard of measurement for me since sixth grade. “I know it’s good, but is is locker slappin’ good?” I would ask myself. Sometimes in situations I would think it to myself and start chuckling, and people’d ask what was so funny and I would just have to say “nothing.” It’s too long a story to tell and not get a laugh; I always thought that I’d just keep it to myself.
But then Justin came back to the area with his amazing wife Dj and their awesome sauce daughter, and opened up Urban Handmade. Now, they probably won’t tell you this the first time you speak to them because they are humble, good people, but both Justin and Dj were very successful as advertising designers. They were certainly set in terms of money and job stability, but they made the conscious decision to open a shop that provides opportunities and exposure for artists, artisans, jewelry designers, and others. Some of these artists can most likely only have their crafts sold in boutique shops such as this one. The Galvins’ commitment to art, economic justice, and artistic honesty are central to the ethos of Yellow Springs; they have utilized their cultural privilege to help crafts persons take products to the market in ethical ways that benefit both the artist and the business, as well as the communities they serve. The Galvins’ design business, Clay+Stan, is also integral to their contributions; again, they wouldn’t say it, but they are donating a considerable amount of talent and time to helping launch The Beloved Community Project of Yellow Springs.
I promise that I’m not writing an advertisement here; I’m starting a series of entries I will do over the course of the year to highlight businesses and events in Yellow Springs that reflect the giving, nurturing, mindful work that goes on in our village. Thanks to Justin and Dj, one of those events is celebrating its sixth anniversary, Cyclops Fest, which takes place on Saturday, September 10 at Mills Lawn from 10am-6pm.
Now I’m going to start writing like this is being published in some cute little zine and not on the blog of a guy who is 40 and still wears cargo shorts. Also, heads up, I’m taking answers Justin gave to The City Paper‘s questions and re-appropriating them, so this conversation never happened anywhere but my mind, but the answers are still accurate.
We’ve gotta start with the name, right? What’s up with the name?
Honestly, because all the other mythological creatures were already taken by other art and music festivals. Traditionally, the Cyclops is a really weird and unique character in stories and fairy tales. They also have a tendency to terrorize small towns and villages. So we thought, let’s just take a Cyclops, make him loveable and huggable, endear him to an amazing small town and brand an entire handmade festival around him. Luckily, it’s worked out pretty good.
Actually, that’s pretty rad. I like this idea. But Justin. Baby. Don’t we have enough festivals in YS? Is this just another Street Fair?
Well, first of all we’re smaller and second of all we focus strictly on handmade culture. The Street Fair is an amazing event that the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce has been able to pull off each year with an incredible amount of organization and infrastructure. As retail shop owners in town it’s also a huge boost for business. However, our focus has been to remain a relatively small festival that celebrates the power of creativity and community on a more personal level.
Wow. That’s cool. So, what has been the reaction of our temperamental village in which no one is happy unless someone is upset?
Well, Yellow Springs in particular has been incredibly supportive and invested in our success. In addition to organizing Cyclops Fest we also own Urban Handmade and a small ad agency called Clay + Stan. Being able to make a living doing what makes us happy is truly because of all the love and support this weird, inspiring, crazy and amazing town has given us.
People can go to the website to see the amazing number of vendors, along with learning about the music, food, beer, stuff for the kiddos, and all those goodies. But what kind of goods can people expect?
This year we’ll feature apparel, accessories, jewelry, bath & body, kids, home goods, food trucks and just about every type of art imaginable. The best part is, independent artists and small businesses make everything. Each person who visits Cyclops Fest has the opportunity to not only support independent artists and small business owners but also have the experience of getting a t-shirt that the artist not only designed but also picked the garment, the ink, made the screen and printed themselves. Handmade culture has a very personal vibe to it. You get to know the person you are buying from. A sort of history lesson, if you will.
Alright, man. Well, make the check out to Rev. Aaron Maurice Saari, and I’ll post this after it clears.
For realsies, though, here’s the deal. One of the things that has always made Yellow Springs special is how supportive we are of artists. Of all types. Think of how many dance concerts, plays, band concerts, chamber music performances, gigs at the Peach or the Emporium, you’ve been to in just the past two years. We support art here. Justin and Dj are doing something special and important, and they are doing it here in the village because they want to give back. And I know my Communist friends are going to argue that capitalism is inherently cruel and even altruistic motives do not mitigate the damage that is done. Blah. Yeah, perhaps. And we can go to the Sunrise and take turns at who gets to play Trotsky and who gets to be Lenin, but for right now I’m gonna say that Cyclops Fest is locker slappin’ good. Each year the festival gets bigger, but for the right reasons: more sponsors, more vendors, more local bands, more local food trucks. Yellow Springs continues the tradition of providing space and time and opportunity for artists of all sorts to support themselves and one another.
I hope that you’ll come. Check out Cyclops. Help support local business. We fight hard to prevent sprawl; let’s make sure we support those people that help keep YS weird.
*Sister, if you read this I know that you are engaged and I am offering to do your wedding for free (especially if you are in any way embarrassed, which I hope you’re not because that memory is like one of my favorites and you’re why).