CONWAY Downtown Conway and environs beyond will be awash with art Friday through Sept. 29 as the Conway Alliance for the Arts presents the sixth annual Conway ArtsFest.
From visual art and music to theater, dance, creative writing and film, the efforts of local artists, as well as those known nationally and internationally, will be on display in a variety of venues, including Simon Park, Hendrix College, the University of Central Arkansas, the Faulkner County Library and the Faulkner County Museum. All events are free and open to the public.
“I am very excited about this year’s ArtsFest,” said Jim Wiltgen, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Hendrix College and chairman of this year’s ArtsFest. “We celebrate the wide branch of arts opportunities you will find in our community.”
Tag-lined with the phrase “Such Great Heights,” the event has a general theme of architecture.
“This theme was inspired by our main attraction, Architects of Air’s Mirazozo luminarium,” said Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and Communication and a member of the ArtsFest planning committee. Architects of Air is based in Notttingham, England, and according to information found on its website, has during the past 20 years designed and constructed 19 lumanariums that have toured the world.
Seymour, who has been on the event’s planning committee since its inception six years ago, said Mirazozo is a building-sized inflatable environment that will be installed on the lawn in front of McAlister Hall at UCA on Sept. 27-29. Entry times are available from noon-6 p.m. Sept. 27-28 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 29. Entry is free, but timed tickets must be reserved in advance at mirazozo.eventbrite.com.
“It’s going to be a spectacular event,” Seymour said, adding that several YouTube videos are available if patrons want to view the luminarium before experiencing it at ArtsFest.
“We also have the CORE Performance Company dancers from Atlanta and Houston, who will be performing ‘Light Moves’ inside the luminarium at 4, 4:20 and 4:40 p.m. Sept. 28 and 1, 1:20 and 1:40 p.m. Sept. 29,” Seymour said. Visitors must reserve free Mirazozo tickets for those times as well.
The Baum Gallery of Fine Art at UCA will host Mirazozo. Barclay McConnell, director of the gallery and a member of the ArtsFest planning committee, said she became aware of the luminarium when she worked in North Carolina.
“The city of Raleigh had it every year,” she said. “I never saw it, but I knew it would be wonderful.
“It’s a monumental inflatable sculptural environment, an installation of sorts. It’s handmade of large pieces of plastic, thin enough for light to shine through and make colors on the inside. You walk in it. It’s like being inside a kaleidoscope.
“I’m hoping it will bring in people who otherwise might not have an interest in art. It will be a unique experience.”
Mirazozo is handicap-accessible, McConnell said. Visitors who are able to walk through the installation will be required to remove their shoes and leave them outside the structure.
Seymour said “lots of art will be on display” during ArtsFest, including work by students in the Conway School District on Sept. 28 and 29 in the lobby of American Management Corp., 824 Front St.; work by clients of Independent Living Services on Sept. 28 and 29 at Bob’s Grill, 1112 Oak St.; work by members of the Conway League of Artists throughout the festival in downtown storefront windows; and three exhibits at UCA’s Baum Gallery throughout the festival — So Tiny: Small Works in 3-D; Juried Bodies of Work: The Baum MFA Biennial 2012; and Small Talk: Works on Paper by Heather Gordon.
Several art exhibits carrying out the architecture theme will be on display throughout the festival, including Historic Faulkner County Architecture at the Faulkner County Museum, 801 Locust St.; and Art in Architecture: Historic Homes of Conway, an art exhibit by Faulkner County students in kindergarten through the 12th grade, at Conway City Hall.
A Black Box City interactive art installation will be presented Sept. 27-29 at the Black Box Student Gallery in the Schichtl Studio Arts Building at UCA.
“People will be invited to help create the art at this event,” Seymour said.
Creative writing will be featured at 6 p.m. Wednesday, as the Vortex, a student magazine at UCA, will sponsor a student reading at Something Brewing, 1156 Front St.
The Faulkner County Library will hold an Author Fair from 1-5 p.m. Sept. 29, featuring local and regional authors representing many genres. The authors will be on hand to discuss their work and to share their books with the public. Authors include Linda Varner Palmer, Gerry Craig Powell, Mark Spitzer, Juliet Kimbrell, Bob Reising, Carroll Williams, Lorien Foote, Robin Becker, Tyrone Jaeger and Stephanie Vanderslice, all of Conway; Sherry Laymon of Hot Springs; Jay Jennings and David Colclasure, both of Little Rock; Pat Laster of Benton; and Freeda Nichols of Clinton.
ArtsFest will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Conway Symphony Orchestra performs on the Kris Allen Stage in Simon Park. That performance will be followed by a Revel Rockin’ Concert featuring Brown and Soul Shoes, Ty-Chicken, 1 Oz. Jig and the Kris Lager Band on the rooftop of Michelangelo’s Italian Ristorante, 1117 Oak. St.
The Quartetto Gelato of Canada will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Staples Auditorium at Hendrix and will present a master class at 4:10 p.m. Monday in Reves Recital Hall at Hendrix.
Jazz trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, a native of New Orleans, will be in concert with the UCA jazz ensembles at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA. Marsalis will also present master classes at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday and at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Snow Fine Arts Center Recital Hall at UCA.
“Words and Music,” featuring Tyron Jaeger, Slings and Arrows and Slam Poetry, will be offered from 7-11 p.m. Sept. 27 on the rooftop patio at Michelangelo’s Restaurant.
A free film screening of Dancer, by Dara Friedman, will be presented at the Ida Waldran Auditorium at UCA at 2 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28. The film contains brief nudity and runs 25 minutes.
“I am particularly excited about the ‘Get Lit’ activities on [Sept. 28] and the Kids Zone on [Sept. 29],” said Wiltgen, who has been involved with ArtsFest for four years.
The “Get Lit” event, set for 7-11 p.m. Sept. 28, will be an “Art and Music Walk” in downtown Conway with adult activities featuring light and fire. The Conway Film Festival will be set up in the District Court Building from 6-8 p.m., and the Arkansas Arts Beautification Gallery will hold an open house from 6-8 p.m. at 1014 Front St. The UCA Department of Art will present a “lantern swarm” from 7-9:30 p.m. and Sandra Luckett, a UCA professor, will present a Light Projections Installation from 7-10 p.m. in downtown businesses.
Several bands will perform Sept. 28, including The Murals from Louisville, Ky., from 9-10:30 p.m. on the Kris Allen Stage.
The Kids Zone, or Art in the Park, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 29 in Simon Park. Activities will begin with a Kids’ Art Parade at 9:30 a.m. Participants are invited to dress up and carry their art in the parade, which will assemble at 9:15 at the Blackbird Academy’s new location at 1058 Front St.
The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program will present a Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Homes at 10 a.m. Sept. 29. Participants will depart from the mural at Simon Park.
The Conway Advocates for Bicycles will present a bike tour of historic Conway homes at 11 a.m. Sept. 29, beginning at Simon Park. Participants should bring their own bicycles.
Other events set for Sept. 29 include a Conway Civic Clubs Chili Cook-off from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Simon Park; a City of Colleges Art Show, Identity, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Michelangelo’s; and the second annual Hope Concert benefiting Bethlehem House, from 6-10:30 p.m. in the Brick Room of the Ford Theatre, 1020 Front St.
A variety of kids’ activities will be featured in Simon Park during the day on Sept. 29.
For a complete schedule, visit artsfestconway.com.