To say that this is our 5th Annual Artista Party is not entirely true. Artista actually began in 1978, an idea created by Dave Sheridan, Pat Ryan and Elton Kelly. The first step was the creation of the Dragon, (our fearless Leader), then it was turned into a Club or “Gang” as we call it. Now we needed gang jackets, so a company called “Cats Pajamas” began sewing our jackets. The next move was to throw a party – which we did. Thus began the famous and renowned ARTISTA Parties! Boy did we have parties, about 20 of them all of them, all over Marin. In fact, we probably took over every Community Center and concert hall in Marin, to the point that we were never invited back by any of them… probably because of our first rule “No Rules”.
From 1978 to 1988 we gained up to 700 members worldwide. During those days you couldn’t walk down the street wearing your colors without someone yelling at you “Hey Artista, fuckin’A dude, Artista rules!”
We were also part of the California Homegrowers Association which meant,as the name suggests, that there was a lot of wonderful and medicinal herb going round and lots of red eyes.
Then there was the All-Star Artista baseball team which was actually a good team of players considering they were a bunch of stoners.
What defines an Artista and who qualifies to be an Artista has always been an interesting question. Webster’s dictionary defines Artista as “an Artist who creates art or better said, one who treats their craft, whatever that would be, into a fine art”, so that why we have Artistas who are Doctors, Lawyers, Bakers, Contractors, Musicians, Actors, Realtors, Artists, and pretty much anyone who is creative in their craft.
Through the 80’s we had a variety of house bands, starting with Smoke Inc., Zero and the Dinosaurs and some of our Guest bands were the Tubes, Dr. Gonzo, Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, Tommy Tutone, Ron Thompson, Freaky Executives, Dave Steffen etc. Some of our guests included Father Guido Sarducci, Joan Baez, Carlos Santana, Huey Lewis, etc. Whatever the case, you could always expect a wild and colorful cast of characters, all wearing the Artista colors.
This all ended about 1988 and the gang drifted off in different directions all over the world. Many hung up their jackets, started new careers and lives and then got old.
Then came 2007 when some of the old gang members said “hey let’s put the gang back together”, and in that year, we had our first party, (actually our 21st) at 2B1 studios in San Francisco.
Meanwhile,in Petaluma California, a bunch of guys from France who had a band called LMJ, were visiting our brother Crowbar, so we decided to have a party with them playing for a bunch of local old farts. Well, as it turned out, there wasn’t enough room to throw a good party, until Barbara Moore came forward and offered up her place (the Sonoma Sanctuary). We decided to call it the Joyfest, and that became the first annual Joyfest! The next year we decided to merge the two separate events and call it the Artista/Joyfest Party.
This is just a very short story of how all this began. There are many stories and events that are too long to talk about, but as you can see, the Artista was up and running again and we wanted to take this to another level. In the old days we used the Bread and Roses non-profit license to throw our parties, but now ,as of August 1, Artista has got its own nonprofit status! We are ready to put this to use.
Artista has always had a prestigious name and it’s no different now with this new generation of Artistas. Many of the old Artista members have been coming back around, but they all seem to have the same complaint “I haven’t worn my jacket in 20 years and it shrunk in the closet”. (Yeah right). As of 2007 we have signed up 125 new members and more and more are wanting to join Artista.
What started as a tongue and cheek group of misfits, has turned into a semi-serious bunch of misfits. We just want to have fun and hopefully pass this ideal along to others, preferably younger folks who will keep this thing alive.
Now it’s 2012, we have finally got our nonprofit status set up as a Health and Wellness Fund and many bands have given us of their time and played for free. Our parties have gone from a 4 hour party to a three day party! With more and more people becoming Artistas, we are slowly building the gang again and we want to thank everybody who helps to make each year better than last year, so let’s keep on keeping on. From Artista, we thank you for being part of this.