Blissed Out

Before 1999, Michael Taggart didn’t really understand the meaning of his middle name, Bliss. That year, he moved to Austin, where he’d secured studio space but not a place to live — until Gary Peden, manager of the arts organization ArtPlex, offered the multi-talented dreamer a place to crash. “It felt like it was the closest thing to heaven on earth,” Taggart — who has since adopted “Bliss” as his last name — says about the offer. But when he showed up to get the key, nobody was there. It turns out that Peden was dying in a hospital and had chosen to quit life support. Bliss visited him to thank him for his generosity and to say goodbye. “After I talked to him, a tear came down from his eye,” Bliss says. “They pulled the plug, and the birth of Blissfest began.”

The event is a festival of culture, arts and film. “It’s about getting together in a blissful, harmonious environment and meeting new friends, artists and the community in a positive atmosphere,” Taggart says. Expect killer films, spoken word, a photography exhibition, and sideshow acts like glass-walkers and fire-breathers.

Tonight, dress up as your favorite Hollywood character and head to Tenn Street Coffee and Books, 4418 Tennyson Street, for the opening, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Tomorrow night, the bookstore will host an open mic. The film festival runs Saturday and Sunday at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. A one-day pass is $25, and a two-day pass is $40; otherwise, individual events are $5. For tickets and more information, go to blissfest333.org.
Aug. 21-24, 2014

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