News Column

Visual arts, music merge at Iowa Arts Festival

June 6, 2014

By Diana Nollen, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

June 06--Art and music will flow through the streets of downtown Iowa City when the Iowa Arts Festival marks its 32nd outing June 6 to 8.

Painters, photographers, jewelry makers, potters and more -- hailing from as close as Iowa City and Amana and as far as New York and New Smyrna Beach, Fla. -- will ply their wares in booths springing up along Washington, Dubuque and Linn streets, as well as Iowa Avenue in the annual juried show produced by Summer of the Arts.

Free music intersects at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street, with headlining concerts by the Indigo Girls at 9 p.m.June 6 and Steve Earle & The Dukes at 9 p.m.June 7.

All along the way are activities for all ages.

"The Iowa Arts Festival really celebrates a wide range of arts," executive director Lisa Barnes says. "The fact that we are able to provide visual arts, music, culinary, children's entertainment, including puppets, dance, poetry and more, is a testament to the founders of the festival and their goal to bring people together to experience arts in a variety of ways.

"The advantage is to have the opportunity for people who might come for a musical performance to be drawn in to the artist booths. Our parents who bring their kids for Children's Day take time to enjoy the Carnaval Parade."

Children's Day will be celebrated June 7 with a bevy of activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Ped Mall, followed by a colorful-costumed, Caribbean-influenced Carnavale parade winding its way downtown at 3 p.m. Kids are invited to join in the parade, and can go to a special station on the Ped Mall beforehand to make a mask to wear as they dance and stroll the route.

The Englert Theatre with host a Flash Writers-in-Residence throughout the festival. Three local writers -- essayist Ariel Lewiton and poets Nikki-Lee Birdsey and Montreux Rotholtz -- will participate in live demonstrations of the writing process, as well as hold question and answer discussions on the craft of writing.

The fun spills over to the Global Village on the Ped Mall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.June 8. Kids are invited to grab a festival passport and get it stamped at each village booth, as they explore activities and cultures of France, Ghana, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sudan, Sweden, Tibet and Vietnam. When they're done, they can enter the passports into a prize drawing.

Kids are welcome any time during the three-day event.

"All of our performers are told they must keep their performance family friendly, and there are activities for all ages," Barnes says. "For parents of younger kids wanting to visit the artist booths, but concerned about keeping the kids entertained, we have FUN Stops at each block within the art fair where they can stop and do an activity with their kids."

It's a juried fine art show, with 116 artists accepted out of 226 applications.

"We have a blind jury made up of local artists and gallery owners who rate the artwork on a scale of 1 to 7, and the top rated artists are invited based on the jury process," Barnes says.

About 43 percent are Iowa artists, and the rest come from across the country. In addition to the exposure and sales generated by the festival, cash prizes are awarded for three participants deemed Best in Show.

With roots stretching back to 1983, the festival has been known for its artists and children's activities, Barnes says, but over the past few years, the musical entertainment has ramped up, as well, showcasing the best of local, regional and national bands. As with all Summer of the Arts events, admission is free.

All you need are your blankets, chairs and boogie shoes to revel in the sweet summer sounds of the Indigo Girls and Steve Earle, as well as Iowa natives Euforquestra, Dave Moore and Sean Costanza.

"We are only able to offer this free entertainment because of the support of sponsors and individuals who donate to Summer of the Arts," Barnes says. "We have been fortunate in the past couple years to have more sponsors in the community, which allows us to budget more money toward bringing in bigger-named performers, and we are very excited about this year's lineup for the main stage."

Getting to the concerts will be a little easier this year for people with mobility issues, with the addition of an accessibility shuttle and seating area for those who otherwise would have trouble getting to the main stage area from one of the area parking ramps.

It's all about making the arts accessible to everyone, Barnes says.

"I love the variety of things that happen at the Iowa Arts Festival and seeing the wide range of people who come downtown to experience the arts."


WHAT: Iowa Arts Festival

WHEN: June 6 to 8; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Downtown Iowa City; Iowa Avenue and Washington Street, between Linn and Clinton streets; main stage at Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street

COST: Free


(c)2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters