2013 Festival of the Arts to offer ‘art immersion’

FOCUS ON THE ARTS: In its sixth year, the local Festival of the Arts will begin Feb. 1. Similar to last year, the festival will feature a variety of art forms to appeal to a broad audience and age range.

BIG RAPIDS – Just nine days remain until the 2013 Festival of the Arts begins on Feb. 1. But organizers behind the annual month-long art festival began their countdown as soon as the 2012 event ended.

The six-member board, chaired by Ed Mallett and Carrie Weis, begins planning each festival in April of the previous year. This year marks the sixth-annual festival, with the theme of “Immerse Yourself in the Arts.”

“One of the most important reasons (for holding FOTA) is that we are a small, rural community,” Weis said. “A lot of people go about their day without giving much thought to participating or exploring the arts. We get so caught up in our daily lives. But the arts is a really critical part of our existence. It’s one of the ways we can come together as a community to learn new things, explore new things and get out of our every day routines. It’s a way for the Ferris (State University) community, Big Rapids community and people of all ages to communicate with each other on a level playing field.”

(Pioneer file photos)

The foundation for that level playing field will be laid with the opening ceremony featuring Saffeel Gardner and Marion Hayden on Feb. 1. The next day, an “immerse yourself in the arts” hands-on open house will offer artistic entertainment suitable for people of all ages.

Some 15 artists, who also will be featured later in the festival, will participate in the art immersion day running hands-on exhibits and interactive displays.

“There will be (demonstrations) to watch, and also for people to try out and get their own hands in,” Mallett said. “(Participants) will be observing artists throughout the whole festival, but they’ll also be taking part in the arts during the festival.”

With a focus on actively engaging and “immersing” in the arts, the 2013 Festival of the Arts will offer 61 events throughout the month of February. Exhibits range from dance to foreign film to beading, photography, a blacksmith demonstration and much more.

The line-up to kick off opening weekend includes:

  • Feb. 1 through March 1 – Downtown artwalk featuring local artists’ exhibits at downtown businesses;
  • Feb. through March 1 – Saffell Gardner art exhibit in the upper gallery at Artworks. Exhibit will be available during regular Artworks gallery hours;
  • Feb. 1 through March 1 – “Observations Abroad” photography exhibit by John Batdorff at the Rankin Art Gallery at Ferris. Exhibit will be available during regular gallery hours;
  • Feb. 1 through March 1 – Wildlife drawing and painting exhibit by Rod Lawrence in the upper gallery at Artworks.
  • Feb. 1 – Opening FOTA reception at 7 p.m. in the upper gallery at Artworks. The reception will feature husband and wife, Saffell Gardner and Marion Hayden, from Detroit;
  • Feb. 2 – “Immerse Yourself in the Arts” day from noon to 4 p.m. at Crossroads Charter Academy elementary school;
  • Feb. 2 – Happendance, a dance troupe from Lansing, will perform at 7 p.m. at the Crossroads auditorium;
  • Feb. 2 – “The Road Home” will be shown at 7 p.m. in IRC room 120 at Ferris as part of the Foreign Film festival; and
  • Feb. 3 – GV GrooVe!, an a capella group from Grand Valley State University, will perform at 4 p.m. in the Dome Room in the Rankin Center at Ferris.

A full schedule of events and more information is available online at www.ferris.edu/festival. FOTA 2013 books also are available at various local business – Artworks, the Pioneer, City Hall and Big Rapids Community Library – and on Ferris’ campus – Ranking Art Gallery, IRC and FLITE. Questions about festival events can be directed to Weis at (231) 591-2536.

Look for a more in-depth preview of the festival in the weekend edition of the Pioneer.

(Pioneer file photos)

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