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Crafts, improv, dancing to fill Upper Arlington Arts Festival

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Pottery pieces by Kristy Jo Beber, who will have a booth at the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival Sept. 2. Credit: Courtesy of Kristy Jo Beber

Pottery pieces by Kristy Jo Beber, who will have a booth at the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival Sept. 2. Credit: Courtesy of Kristy Jo Beber

In an effort to spice up this Labor Day with stilt walkers, belly dancing and even a little improv, Upper Arlington is throwing a festival.

The 47th Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival, presented by Farmers Citizens Bank, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday inNortham Park.

This year’s event is set to showcase more than 200 artists, with two stages of live performances and creative interactive activities.

Lynette Santoro-Au, arts manager of Upper Arlington, hopes to see people of all ages enjoying the attractions.

“There are 24 different activities and you don’t have to be a child to encounter them,” Santoro-Au said.

The arts activities area is set to offer hands-on crafts such as glazing clay pieces with The Clay Café, making wooden drums, print making and even creating duct tape art.

Robert Coomer, a professional photographer showing at the festival, said an arts festival is about more than just viewing and buying art.

“We work visually to express our ideas and feelings, which can be a valuable resource to the younger crowd,” Coomer said in an email. “Creativity isn’t something that is learned, it must be developed through time and practice.”

A history of strong sales and interested customers made Coomer want to return to the Upper Arlington festival for his third consecutive year.

Coomer said preparing for an arts festival goes beyond creating quality pieces and can be daunting for those who do it for a living.

“You have to be able to transport, showcase, sell and protect your art,” Coomer said. “All of it affects your presentation.”

Coomer’s photography ranges from landscape to urban decay images, and he plans to showcase some of his new work, which is a combination of modern and rustic tintype, at the festival. Coomer prints an image on top of hand-rusted metal which he then mounts using rusty hardware.

“The prints become almost structural, as the strata has correlations to the image, such as an old decaying building or a rusty train,” Coomer said.

Coomer will be at Booth 142.

Kristy Jo Beber is another featured artist, and this is her fifth year showing her pottery at the festival.

“I find the community support and excitement amazing and there is good buying energy,” said Beber, who will be in Booth 89.

With pieces starting at $15, Beber hopes to see some young art collectors in addition to the usual crowd.

In addition to the artists and hands-on activities, the festival is slated to provide guests with a unique opportunity to take part in Improv Everywhere’s mp3 experiment. Improv Everywhere is a New York City-based “prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.”

Santoro-Au explained that guests can download the group’s mp3 ahead of time from the festival website, where they will find additional directions. Guests are instructed to arrive at the festival by 12:30 p.m., plug in and follow instructions. Participants may be prompted to engage in activities from freeze-tag to square-dancing, Santoro-Au said.

“People see you do these fun things and get curious,” Santoro-Au said. “They want to get involved and be a part of the art.”

The festival is set to run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Northam Park on 2070 Northam Road in Upper Arlington. Admission is free. There is parking available and a free shuttle service from the parking area to festival grounds.

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