The 2017 festival will run the 10 days of April 28 through May 7, beginning with a launch party held in the Mountain Valley Spring Water building, this year’s presenting sponsor. Attendees will be able to take in live music, mingle with featured guest artist Kevin Kresse, and sample works of culinary art in appetizer and beverage form. In addition, this year’s Arts Ambassador Award will be presented to Suzanne Tucker that evening, for her work to embody the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance’s mission of celebrating, advocating and promoting the arts and culture that surround the city.
During the first weekend, participants will be able to join in studio tours, held in the personal creative space of local artists. This experience allows visitors to see for themselves where the magic of visual art comes to life, whether it be pottery,
photography, glassblowing or canvas work. There will be 22 locations, and address listings of all studios can be accessed at the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance website.
Also that weekend, the modern designer and muralist Sike Style has been commissioned to paint a mural on an outdoor wall of Emergent Arts, and the public will be able to watch him work and ask questions while he transforms the space, located at 341 Whittington Ave.
A community meal in the form of a Farm-To-Table Taco Party will highlight the importance of locally grown ingredients during an event set for April 29. Gastronomy wizards from Itz Gud Füd and Taco Mama will prepare the menu, while Jay and Valorie Lee, the 2016 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, will be present to answer questions about their adventures in reviving sustainable farming practices.
Additional culinary arts offerings will include demonstrations and tastings of beer at both Superior Brewery and the Craft Beer Cellar, coffee at Red Light Roastery, and tea varieties and techniques at Kollective Coffee+Tea.
Even moving pictures will get their due, with an outdoor screening of the highly influential 1927 Fritz Lang sci-fi film “Metropolis,” also on April 29. Taking place on the former site of the Majestic Hotel, the movie will have live musical score accompaniment by The Shadow Ensemble.
On May 2, historic buildings will be showcased during the Historic Downtown Architectural Tour, led by local architect and historical preservation specialist, Anthony Taylor. The era of World War I will be discussed as it relates to architecture, and at the tour’s end, pianist Chuck Dodson will play a concert of songs from that time period in the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.
Along with entertainment, sharing knowledge is at the forefront of Arts & The Park. Cultural Affairs Manager Mary Neilson said, “This year, we’ve really tried to focus not only on bringing art lovers here, but artists, too, and having workshops and lectures on all the artistic disciplines.”
Acclaimed Arkansas outdoor photographer Tim Ernst will lead a lecture on May 1, and additional lectures will focus on subjects like public art, still life creation and jazz history.
Workshops run the gamut, from watercolor to writing. In partnership with the Spa City Blues Society, a Blues in the Schools work- shop will be held on May 6, where children can make their own musical instruments, then play along during a free concert by the Spa City Youngbloods that evening.
That concert will be one of countless free activities during the closing weekend’s Art Springs festival at Hill Wheatley Plaza. For that Saturday and Sunday, young people will be a major focus.
Neilson said, “We did surveys last year, and people asked for more children’s activities at the outdoor arts events,” so organizers complied, and will host the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre for a live production of “The Reluctant Dragon,” storytelling duo Fred and Gloria Gardner of BaGar Productions, and the festival’s first sidewalk chalk art competition.
Throughout the 10 days, works by guest artist Kevin Kresse will be part of a pop-up gallery inside the Mountain Valley Water building, 150 Central Ave. He is best known for his lifelike graphite pieces on paper and imposing sculptures. Kresse will also hold a small workshop and art demonstration while he’s in Hot Springs, and answer questions at a forum slated for May 4.
This year’s festival will involve more businesses and additional nonprofits than
Neilson said, “We’ve always wanted to involve different organizations and build partnerships within the community.” Help will be provided by such institutions as the Garland County Library, Muses Creative Artistry Project, Department of Arkansas Heritage and several galleries.
Cole McCaskill, vice president of Economic Development for the Hot Springs Metro Partnership, spoke about the vital role that the arts play in not only building the community, but increasing the overall economic health of the city, by expanding tourism. He encouraged people of all ages to stretch their creative wings by coming out and enjoying the lineup of some 60 activities.
Tickets, registration and detailed event information is available online at http://www.hotspringsarts. org.