A growing canvas; ArtWorks Festival expands in its fourth year

The skies began to clear a little after noon over the ArtWorks Festival after a morning of clouds and rain last year. Herald file photos

The skies began to clear a little after noon over the ArtWorks Festival after a morning of clouds and rain last year. Herald file photos

There are more than 100 artists of all kinds coming to Austin this weekend. More than 20 musical acts will take to the stage throughout the weekend. In other words, the fourth annual Austin ArtWorks Festival is growing into its own.

“It just is amazing what a community can do when you get dedicated, energetic, passionate people working on a project,” Bonnie Rietz, co-chair of the festival’s steering committee, said.

Rietz hadn’t imagined how large the festival would grow after she, co-chair Belita Schindler and other committee members first conceived of a two-day event back in 2010. Yet the ArtWorks Festival has grown into a week-long event with ties throughout the region.

The ArtWorks Festival will run from Aug. 17 to 23, starting with a fun wine and art event and ending with a large-scale festival of artistic opportunities.

“It’s very exciting how each year, more and more things are added and new things, which really helps to make it fun for not only the visitors coming in, but the people in Austin,” Rietz said.

This year, the festival has added more well-known music acts thanks to Legacy amendment funding and support from KSMU 89.7 FM The Maverick out of Mankato.

“Music has always been a part of the festival, but this year it just came out of opportunities to bring in more acts,” Jennie Knoebel, executive director of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, said.

Those acts include Mankato-based Good Night, Gold Dust, as well as popular independent artists such as Reina del Cid and Trio Sene Nome. Those bands and more will be featured Saturday and Sunday at the festival’s indoor and outdoor stages.

That’s not even counting the Dick Schindler Celebration Concert, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at Marcusen Park in southern Austin.

The large-scale Saturday night concert features Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra, along with Root City, Bissen, Jacobson and Kroc, and the Austin High School Jazz Band.

Yet this year’s concert is an homage to Schindler, a vital volunteer with the festival along with many other community causes.

“He was there these last three years helping with set-up right there, working with the festival, helping out, and so to have the Saturday evening concert in his honor is fitting,” Rietz said.

Bob Larson, left and Reed Cowan, visiting from California, look over bikes at the Spare Parts Motorcycle Show during the Austin ArtWorks Festival last year. Herald file photo

Bob Larson, left and Reed Cowan, visiting from California, look over bikes at the Spare Parts Motorcycle Show during the Austin ArtWorks Festival last year. Herald file photo

 Downtown debuts

The festival is branching out to downtown Austin this year in a big way.

The Spare Arts motorcycle show will be on display from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Main Street. The event was such a success last year that organizers Andy Hull and Mark Nagle decided to bring a new group of bikes to check out.

There’s going to be plenty of food available as well from Hormel Foods Corp., as the Spamerican Tour makes its way to Austin Saturday. The nationwide tour features unique Spam dishes developed by Food Network personality Sunny Anderson, along with local chef takes on the classic Hormel meat. The Spamerican tour bus will be in front of the location of the new Spam Museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The tour will feature local artist Bruce Loeschen from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. displaying his creative poster design for the tour’s Austin stop. Starting at noon, the local band Spare Parts will put on a concert featuring homemade “canstruments” — musical instruments made from Spam cans.

Perhaps the biggest event will be the Bubble Blast, Austin’s first attempt to set a city bubble blowing record. Originally conceived as an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records, the event will serve as a benchmark for future attempts at the ArtWorks Festival and, maybe one day, a large-scale challenge for the world record.

“We’ll see what happens next year,” Knoebel said with a laugh.

The Hormel Institute is constructing a gigantic beaker full of bubbles for the event as well. The beaker will be stationed across the street from the Artworks Center.

 Starting art

The ArtWorks Festival won’t only be confined to Saturday and Sunday.

The week begins with Uncork & Create, an upscale event where participants can make a little art with a few adult beverages such as wine and beer. the event starts at 7 p.m. at the Hormel Historic Home.

Austin native Bret Hesla leads the Community Sings benefit for Haiti at the Eagle’s Club in Minneapolis in October 2010.  Photo provided

Austin native Bret Hesla leads the Community Sings benefit for Haiti at the Eagle’s Club in Minneapolis in October 2010.
Photo provided

On Tuesday, Minnesota Community Sings with song leader Bret Hesla will take the stage at the veteran’s pavilion at Bandshell Community Park. Anyone can come to the event, starting at 6:30 p.m., to sing with other people throughout the community.

The Paramount Theatre will host Irish folk trio Makem & Spain at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Paramount Theatre, followed by a gallery opening for Jean Formo and Mary Singer at the Austin ArtWorks Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

The ArtWorks Festival starts at 2 p.m. Friday with an introduction to polymer clay class with Layl McDill at the Austin ArtWorks Center.

Starting at 7:30 p.m., the bands Cosmic and Blue Rooster will play at the VFW. In addition, the alley party featuring Frankie Lee is set for 8 p.m. behind Dusty’s Bar & Lounge.

 Painting a picture

There’s dozens of artistic options for residents and the thousands of people who will come to Austin next week for the festival.

More than 60 visual artists will be on display at the power plant throughout the weekend. Local literary favorites Amanda Hocking and Michael Cotter will join eight other authors, including Mower County Historical Society Executive Director John Haymond, at the author stage this weekend as well.

“It’s one aspect of the Artworks Festival that really sets us apart from other art festivals,” Knoebel said. “Not many have literary arts available.”

As the festival grows, even more attractions and artists will inevitably join the fun.

“It’s a wonderful example of what happens when a community gets together behind a project,” Rietz said.

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