East Lansing Art Festival to return for 54th year May 20-21

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The East Lansing Art Festival will be held downtown May 20-21.

There will be an opening concert at 7 p.m. that Friday.

The festival is held in downtown East Lansing, on Abbot Road, Grand River, Albert Avenue and a bit of M.A.C. Avenue. Parking Lot 1 across the street from Harper’s is closed down in order for activities for the festival to take place.

East Lansing Art Festival Director Michelle Carlson.

Blair Moon

East Lansing Art Festival Director Michelle Carlson.

“The purpose of the festival is a celebration of art,” said festival director Michelle Carlson. “It also has the purpose of enhancing the downtown and bringing the community together.”

Admission is free.

The festival will consist of artists selling their artwork, children’s art/ hands-on activities, poetry reading and a artist demonstration area that consists of artists working on art projects.

“This is the third year we’ve done it but it’s really been successful because you walk around and you see these beautiful artwork in people’s booths, but then you can go over here and see wow, a painting really starts with a blank canvas and you have the opportunity to talk to the artists and see how they’re doing,” said Carlson. “There’ll be a potter there spinning some clay. So it’s really interesting to put the process together with the finished product. People seem to really enjoy that cause you don’t realize sometimes what goes into something until you see it happening.”

Aside from the art and other activities, the festival will provide live music.

“We have three stages,” said Carlson. “The main stage, which is held in Ann Street Plaza, has a variety of music all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Then we have a smaller stage. We call it the park stage, which is on the corner of Albert and Abbott. That’s for more up-and-coming, acoustic, acts. Then we have another stage in the children’s area, that hosts family friendly performances of music. We have workshops of different things. We’re going to have a ukulele performance, we’re gonna have modern dance workshops, African dance workshops, a break dancing workshop, storytellers, so there’s more of performance art on that children’s stage and it’s a little more interactive for the families.”

Coordinator for the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival Benjamin Hall

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Coordinator for the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival Benjamin Hall

There will be a variety of genres, including blues and jazz. Benjamin Hall, who coordinates the East Lansing Jazz Festival, is involved with helping book two stages for the Art Festival.

“I do everything that’s involved with booking two stages,” said Hall. “That includes finding sound reinforcement with some sort of company to provide a sound system and contracting all of the acts picking them all. We’re pretty booked.”

Currently, the headliners for the main stage include Tell Yo Mama, ELHS Jazz Band, Creole do Nord, The Go-Rounds, Botala, Delilah DeWylde, The Hot Mess, Dragspel, Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree, The Crane Wives and Springtails. For a list of performance times and other lineups for the smaller stages, the East Lansing Art Festival’s performance schedule is online.

There are many types of art showcased at the festival and they must go through a process before they’re actually chosen to be a part of it.

“Well, the artists that come to the festival are juried, which means they apply and then a jury selects from that art, the best,” said Carlson. “We have different genres. We have 2D, 3D, ceramics, fibers, metals, sculptures, painting, photography, drawing, glass and digital. So it’s a huge array of genres. So the best of each category gets invited to the festival. Oh, and jewelry too.”

Owner of 'The Record Lounge,' Heather Frarey.

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Owner of “The Record Lounge” Heather Frarey

Heather Frarey, owner of ‘The Record Lounge’ at 111 Division St. in East Lansing, looks forward to seeing the types of art that people are doing the most and recalls a favorite moment from a past East Lansing Art Festival.

“One year there was a guy that took pieces of bowling balls and made jewelry out of it,” said Frarey. “So that was kind of cool. Different things like that is what I look forward to.”

If art, activities and music aren’t enough, the festival will also have a food court.

“In our food court we will have barbecue, sandwiches of various kinds, Woody’s Oasis, Melting Moments will be there and a couple of people canceled so we’re looking for a couple more vendors,” said Carlson.

The art festival will be happening the same weekend as the MSU Spring Arts & Crafts Show on campus, however it is a different event that is not affiliated in any way with the East Lansing Art Festival. The crafts show is more crafty and the East Lansing Art Festival is geared more toward fine art.

“A lot of people don’t understand,” said Carlson. “They walk around campus and then they come walk downtown and it feels kind of like one big festival.”

Money to produce the East Lansing Art Festival comes directly from donations raised on its website.

“Our overall goal is to raise $180,000 and currently we are about one third of the way there,” said Carlson.

If you’re looking to donate to the festival, click the link and scroll down until you see a box that says donate.

For updates on the festival, check the website, follow its official Twitter or like them on Facebook.