More than 170 artists began lining up their tents on MAC and Albert Avenue in East Lansing for the 59th Annual Art Festival this weekend.
The festival takes place on Saturday May 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and today May 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to its website, the festival’s mission is to “enhance a sense of community and appreciation for art, culture and creativity in East Lansing and the greater Lansing area.”
Polymer artist Kimberly Arden has been making jewelry for 34 years. She said she loved the East Lansing Art Festival so much that she spent her birthday working there.
“I’ve done this show now three times on my birthday,” Arden said. “So I give up a really good day to go mess around, and here I am instead.”
Arden’s jewelry is handcrafted by mixing colors and building designs in clay. She then cuts one piece at a time and makes beads and pendants which she strings together to create various pieces.
“People with a sense of humor or upbeat people love my stuff,” Arden said.
Sarah John anderson
Artist Sarah Jean Anderson from Grand Rapids came to the festival for the first time this year. She describes her style as “fringe and fringe mixed media” – “Outsider” meaning she didn’t go to art school.
“Sometimes it’s gross,” Anderson said. “I like to find the beauty in all things.”
The festival was advertised as a “rain or shine” event, but Anderson had some difficulty with the weather. His tent and artwork collapsed in the middle of the night due to the wind.
“The volunteers, they brought all my stuff somewhere, then they gave me another tent,” Anderson said. “The people running this, they’re wonderful people.”
Although Anderson primarily sells her work online, she said selling in person at festivals is more fun because she can see people’s reaction to her work.
“I want someone to smile or laugh…just for a second in a different space,” Anderson said. “I can see someone laughing or it reminds them of someone they love…it’s my favorite. And you can only get it when you sell in person.
Visual artist Inty Muenala is originally from Ecuador but now lives in Commerce Township. His work includes paintings, installations and performances.
“I do artwork about Native American symbols and modern history,” Muenala said.
Some of the artwork he presented at the festival covered the themes of “connecting to Mother Earth”, animal spirit, Line 5 issues and protecting the water supply.
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Ceramic artist and teacher Cory Bechler describes pottery as his “de-stress”. His pieces depict animals in a more eclectic and whimsical way.
“I live in Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park,” Bechler said. “So I take inspiration from these birds and find the ones that I see on a daily basis, but I like to quantify them a bit.”
Traveling to East Lansing was a success for Bechler – he said the show was always financially beneficial for him.
“East Lansing is a fantastic town to hang out in,” Becker said. “It’s a fantastic show for patrons from literally all over Mid-Michigan.”
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