The pandemic-inspired alternative to GR’s Festival of the Arts will celebrate ‘all things art in a slightly different way this year.’ Details and a list of performers at Local Spins.
It’s not the traditional Festival of the Arts, but it still celebrates the arts – visual and musical – in early June in downtown Grand Rapids.
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This weekend’s inaugural “En Plein Air,” created as an alternative event due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, will features instrumental performances by musicians in social zones through the downtown area with visual artists painting urban landscapes live in various locations.
Meanwhile, another twist on Festival of the Arts will unfurl Sept. 17-19 during ArtPrize with major performances by Opera Grand Rapids, The Diatribe and much more on the Calder Plaza stage.
Festival of the Arts executive director David Abbott has said that the community “yearns for the arts to celebrate,” especially after a pandemic, so organizers created two new events this year that safely allow musicians and artists “to share their talent.”
Starting at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, solo instrumentalists will perform in 10 outdoor locations, aka “social zones,” throughout downtown – at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Brick & Porter, Monument Park, the Love Sculpture, the Arthur H. Vandenberg statue, Jimmy John’s, Sundance Grill & Bar, City Flats Hotel, PNC Bank and Uccello’s Ristorante.
Performers from across the state who’ll play at the different locations include Nathan Walton, Alex Svoboda, Jared Tuitel, Emily Smith, Gabriela Sanchez, Daniel Pladdet, Michael Schaefer, Rob Mickey, Rock Phelps, Kay Patrick, Jacob Hoekwater, Larissa Fall, David Fable, Emily Smith, Al Hight, David Dilsizian, Jared Tuitel and Melain Dekker.
“I’m really excited to play this new event as I think its going to be a one-time thing in Grand Rapids,” said Walton, a Grand Rapids-area singer-songwriter who’ll perform 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday across from Ucello’s. “It is all acoustic and I’ll be playing a few different instruments, including Sitar.”
Festival organizers are encouraging fans to purchase food and drinks from restaurants in these social zones while enjoying the musical entertainment.
After hosting a “Listening Lawn” show at 8 p.m. Thursday featuring Pink Sky, Earth Radio and The Brandino Extravaganza, Studio Park will participate in En Plein Air by airing performances by Opera Grand Rapids, The Diatribe and more in its courtyard on Friday.
Meanwhile, “a light show with auditory experience” will take place on Calder Plaza during the evening hours.
As for visual artists, dozens of them will be spread out throughout downtown for live painting starting on Friday, with all entered in a prize exhibition juried by Stephen Smith of Muse Gallery. Get details and locations online here. A virtual regional arts exhibition and youth art exhibition also will take place.
Overall, organizers say, En Plein Air is a way to celebrate “all things art in a slightly different way this year.”
Children are encouraged to participate this week as well, with kids’ “take-away paint activities” taking place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Richmond Park, 6 p.m. Thursday at Riverside Park and 6 p.m. Friday at McKay Jaycee Park.
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