BAYarts Art + Music Festival once again a success

Exhibitors display their wares at BAYarts' Art + Music Festival on June 14. Photo by Jessica Stockdale

The annual Art + Music Festival, a free day of "food, fun, art and music" on the BAYarts campus, took place on June 14. The celebration boasts a way of sharing "affordable art" with the community at large.

The party featured upbeat reggae music by Umojah Nation, food from the newly christened Fuller Porch Cafe, BAYarts board members working a busy grill, and over 70 vendors of artistic wares. BAYarts gallery director Eileen Stockdale coordinated the event, and said that the 2014 festival was their largest year yet. They bumped up the amount of vendors with nearly 20 additional tents. Attendance for the pre-Father's Day event was also higher than average. "It was a beautiful day both weather-wise and crowd-wise," she explained with enthusiasm.

There was a wide variety of items to see, including: sea glass jewelry, handcrafted soaps, organic tea, copper-wire crocheted bracelets, hand-embroidered bags, matted photography prints, watercolor landscapes of familiar ("hey, my parents used to take me there!") spots, maple-flavored cotton candy, pet-portraits  and more

One appeal of buying from local artisans is that you get to talk to the actual artist whose work you see before you. And make no mistake, these are quality (often, absurdly unique) items that people in art festivals are bringing to you. Even the tent set-ups and displays were creative. One tent had a white-picket fence in the front, while another featured a station with where people could test out a hand scrub before rinsing off their hands. Jewelry items were draped over driftwood, and charms were nestled into upside-down seashells. Visitors were left with a glowing feeling for the welcoming northeastern Ohio community of artists and art-enthusiasts.

"We have so many wonderful shop artists, but they have a lot more than we can put on display. This gives them a chance to bring their whole line out," Eileen Stockdale said of one of the reasons the festival is such a unique event. But it's not just about local artists. "It's always exciting to get new vendors that do this all summer long – they might be coming from Michigan or Indiana."

As it was a great day for a walk through the Cleveland Metroparks, several dogs were on hand during the festival. Although there was an adorable sleepy Chihuahua, and a friendly, hulking St. Bernard, the award for "Stand-Out Pup" undoubtedly went to the large poof of white (an American Eskimo) sweeping the crowds while wearing a jauntily tilted silver and purple tiara.

One of the highlights of the festival this year, as with two previous years, was the inclusion of The Rustbelt Monster Collective's mural that was created out in the open. Festival attendees were able to watch the progress over the length of the afternoon. It, along with two other murals, are on permanent display around the BAYarts campus.

If you didn't make it out this year, rest easy. The popular event is repeated each summer.

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is a professional writer and a volunteer at BAYarts.

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Volume 6, Issue 13, Posted 9:15 AM, 06.24.2014