The Rapidian

Big Bang Art Festival bringing "outsider" art to Mangiamo! this weekend

Not your "normal" art festival, folk artist Reb Roberts and crew are seeking to create a truly unique show of original artwork from some of Michigan's most intriguing artists.
Reb Roberts at his Sanctuary Folk Art Gallery

Reb Roberts at his Sanctuary Folk Art Gallery /Jonathan Timothy Stoner

Underwriting support from:

East Hills Big Bang Art Festival - Mangiamo! 1033 Lake Drive SE

Saturday, August 25 - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday, August 26 - 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free Admission

Heartside folk artist Reb Roberts, of Sanctuary Folk Art Gallery, doesn’t believe in doing anything ordinary. According to his website he is suspicious of everything that is normal. So don’t expect the East Hills Big Bang Art Festival he is co-sponsoring with the Gilmore Collection to be your normal art fair. With creative-types like the spray paint toting graffiti artist Sinister and the chainsaw wielding woodcarver Bearclaw Jack in attendance, this event promises to be something special.

“Meeting the artists who are doing the work and supporting that community is huge, I think,” says Roberts. The organizers have limited the number of artists to help facilitate a more open and inviting environment. The artists and their wares will be scattered across the spacious lawn at Mangiamo! Italian Restaurant to ensure that everyone will have room to interact comfortably.

Over 20 handpicked Michigan artists from a variety of disciplines including several painters, jewelers, photographers, sculptors, woodcarvers, non-traditional ceramic artists, collage artists and pin-stripers will be displaying and selling their work. Some of the artists are art fair veterans but for others this will be the first time they have ever participated in a show. The hope is that these talented artists will get greater exposure while being more deeply grafted into our community.

“A lot of the people don’t do art fairs or festivals, and haven’t done a lot of work lately but [we were] thinking if we threw it at them, if they would jump at it then that would encourage them to kind of come out and show things and do things together,” says Roberts.

Roberts approached the planning of this event in the same intuitive way he goes about choosing art for his gallery, which is not so much focused on the artwork as it is on the artist. He and the other organizers were intentional about approaching people based on whether the person was someone that would be fun to hang out with for an entire weekend.

“Art is important but it’s not always the art itself that hits me,” says Roberts. “It’s the person themselves that becomes kind of attractive and then you put the art with the person and then it kind of gels.”

Roberts has enjoyed a long history of collaborating with the art-friendly Gilmore restaurants. When he approached the management at Mangiamo! they were very open to the idea of an art fair. In fact, the idea of hosting an art festival on the restaurant grounds had been percolating in the minds of management at Mangiamo! for a long time. If all goes well, the Big Bang Art Festival will be a yearly event at the restaurant.

In addition to the artwork on display, there will be workshops for children led by Betsey Hamm of Learning from Scratch. Local musicians will be performing live on stage throughout the weekend. And Mangiamo! promises a "special artistic menu" tailor-made for the event.

The festival runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information, visit the Mangiamo! website or contact Reb Roberts at the Sanctuary Folk Art Gallery at 454-0401.

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