Chris Milk Hulburt, a celebrated Richmond-based artist, has been wrestling with a new challenge as of late. Instead of his usual approach to art—going with his heart and seeing where it leads—Hulburt saw the 2017 Richmond Folk Fest poster as an enormous responsibility, and one he wanted to handle a little differently.
With dozens of performer names and group acts to fit on the poster, he really wanted to make sure the art complemented the names without overpowering them. "I just wanted them to be the stars." Putting more work into the planning process meant that some ideas ended up crumpled up in the trash, but that's OK with him.
Hulburt's colorfully painted pieces are famous for their nontraditional canvas—that is, the pictures themselves are usually painted on scrap wood. He got his start as a painter, but the kind that painted the interior and exterior of houses. When he found himself with some extra paint and wood one day, a star was born. But now he'd like the limelight to shine on the performers of the festival he loves more than any other Richmond event.
"I go every year," he says. "It's a wonderful thing." Last year in particular, Hulburt remembers, the beatbox showcase brought him to tears, "about nineteen times." And it's that spirit of awe and gratitude that we can expect to see channeled into this year's Richmond Folk Fest poster.
"I see it as this figure who is singing the praises of all these wonderful talents that alight on our town every year," he describes. "This sort of humble figure that's just sort of saying 'Look at this giant list of just wonderful people who come and do this amazing thing...and we get to wander about and see them. For free!'"
This figure and the rest of the art behind the names themselves will be "simple and beautiful." To add the right amount of gravitas to the names of the performers, Hulburt hand-drew the letters and overlaid them onto his painted piece. He found it exciting—if a little nerve-wracking—to work in a different way, and this experience artist suddenly finds himself fighting back anxiety that his poster can live up to those from previous years.
"I just got this wonderful vibe planning and meeting with people. It was so obvious that everyone who helps put this together just really cared about the bands, the performers, the talent, the musicians...just the idea of these people who do it year after year to put on this beautiful free event so the performers can come and smile and do their thing."
"I hope when mine gets added to the wall of fame, people won't look at it and say, 'Oh. And then...this guy did this one,'" he jokes. "I just got this wonderful vibe planning and meeting with people. It was so obvious that everyone who helps put this together just really cared about the bands, the performers, the talent, the musicians...just the idea of these people who do it year after year to put on this beautiful free event so the performers can come and smile and do their thing."
Folk Fest and art fans can see the finished product at an unveiling at Glave Kocen Gallery on September 13, 5:30 – 7pm. A limited number of signed, special edition posters (4 Color Print // 100 qty on French Paper) will be available for purchase.
Guests can also enter a raffle to win a complete set of (13) posters representing every year of the Richmond Folk Festival.
The Richmond Folk Festival Poster Reveal is FREE to the public and will feature the Richmond Folk Festival’s official beer, FestivALE,, hors d'oeuvres by Heritage and live music performed by Josh Small & Andrew Ali.
Artists of the Folk Fest poster include (Check out this gallery of all past posters):
- Chris Hulburt- 2017
- Katie McBride- 2016
- Bizhan Khodabandeh -2015
- Leslie Herman - 2014
- Brianna Bevan and Jason Frank – 2013
- Kelly Alder- 2012
- Matt Lively– 2011
- Wes Freed - 2010
- Jason Smith and Laura Marr - 2009
- Ed Trask – 2008
- Sterling Hundley – 2007
- JHI – 2006
- Robert Meganck – 2005