Big Rapids Festival of The Arts

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Various Venues in Big Rapids
Big Rapids, MI 49307

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Welcome to Festival of the Arts 2023! This year's festival will take place from February 3rd through February 28th.

The festival looks much like it has in the past with a combination of workshops, entertainments, and exhibits for you to enjoy. As in past years, we have offerings from multiple genres and for all age groups, all free of charge except in cases where workshop materials are required.

February in Michigan offers us special challenges in terms of weather, sometimes in regard to entertainers’ ability to reach us, and sometimes in regard to our own ability to reach events. We will put cancellations and rescheduled dates on the website ( and also on Facebook. Please join us on Facebook because it is a great way to keep up with what is in store each day and also to see photos after events.

We are excited to be presenting the community with a new piece of public art. This piece will be by Joey Salamon, who is designing art to be dis- played on the west side of the Simonds building. The work will consist of panels that fill the missing windows on the building. We will have four of those panels on display for the opening reception on February 3rd at Immanuel Lutheran Church, and the artist will say a few words about the work prior to the concert that evening.


2023 Festival of the Arts Month-long Exhibits and Activities

Artworks: Discovering Traditions: Anishinaabe Art - Artworks

Monday - Saturday, 10:00am - 4:00pm

Artworks is proud to present the art of four prestigious Anishinaabe artists: Shirley Brauker (potter), Kelley Church (weaver), Stephanie Jackson (painter), and Jason Quigno (sculptor). The Anishinaabe Peoples, comprised of the Ojibwe, Potawatami, Odawa, Salteaux, Chippewa, Mississaugas, Nipissing and Algonquin, are the indigenous people of our Great Lakes region in Michigan, as well as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and sections of Canada. Being Woodlands people, they lived with the land, drawing food, tools, and shelter from nature. Anishinaabe art reflects this harmonious relationship with the surrounding world combining art with craft whether for practical or ceremonial use. The artists in this exhibit continue to use traditional techniques while innovating in order to make their own personal statements.

An opening reception will be held Feb 5 at 1:00 pm at the Batdorff Gallery in the Artworks Building. Award-winning Anishinaabe sculptor Jason Quigno will speak at the event. Quigno, a tribal citizen of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, who has been carving stone since he was 14, is a life-long resident of Michigan and is a direct descendant of Chief Cobmoosa, also known as the Great Walker, one of the most recognized nineteenthcentury Grand River Ottawa leaders. In his words, “One of my purposes in life as an Anishinaabe man and sculptor is to honor my ancestors. My intention is to share a portion of the Anishinaabe’s beautiful history, our stories and rich traditions in stone.”

FSU Fine Art Gallery: Myth Makers - Ferris State University Fine Art Gallery

Myths and myth making are at the crux of this collaborative exhibition between three artists with a unique connection. Working with imagery steeped in symbolism and metaphor, Kathleen VandeMark, Lynette Vought, and Carrie Weis are either referencing myths and fables or creating new ones.

Stylistically their paintings contain a sense of the surreal, where unnatural pairings between plants and animals occur, where animals are comingling in ways not found in nature, or where dream-like imagery sets the stage for referencing the world around us with the intention of sharing stories that reflect upon life, love, and the nature of all things.

VandeMark, Vought, and Weis earned their MFA degrees (printmaking, printmaking, and painting, respectively) from Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University. VandeMark is an FSU Emerita from the College of Business (graphic design), Vought is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Humanities (art studio), and Weis is the museum and gallery director for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education.

Artworks Lobby: The Magic of Art and Music - Artworks

Monday - Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Over the last three years I have been working with a select group of forward-thinking individuals on building a substantial public art statement dedicated to the Wheatland Music Festival. COVID-19 had a considerable impact on the festival, and also kept any forward movement on funding or building the Wheatland Sculpture at bay. This past year the festival bloomed and had a very good year. In support, I created a model of the Wheatland Music Festival sculpture that I titled “The Magic of Art and Music,” dedicated not only to the power of music, but also including a component suggesting the visual arts and writing/ poetry.

The goal from its initiation was for the model to raise awareness and funding for this multiple-component sculpture. Much has already been donated towards the project, but much still remains to be raised. The model was introduced and displayed in two locations at the 2022 Wheatland Festival. However, the festival was just the start to realizing this public celebration of art and music. In essence we needed a public location to display the model for the next month or two, a desired location that stands by ideals and presence as an art environment — Artworks!

The Magic of Art and Music is complex, visually active and is a true multiple-angle view with multiple contents. As has been my tradition, you not only view my public art, you also read that art via cut word content like a figurative form book or story. The model created out of 6000 series aluminum and wood stands at 76” tall and is approximately 28” wide. The finished “Magic of Art and Music” will stand at 20’ tall and will be fabricated out of 6000 series aluminum and corten steel.

Lego in the Library - Big Rapids Community Library

M - F, 11:00am-6:00 pm, Sat., 10:00am-3:00pm

Come and visit the Big Rapids Community Library throughout the month of February and build some amazing things with Lego! Take advantage of true-to-life color and relative scale model kits of some of the world’s architectural masterpieces, or create free-form with blocks of various shapes and sizes. Larger Duplo blocks will also be available for younger builders.

2023 Festival of the Arts Events

1:00pm: Big Rapids Garden Club Event: Invasive Species - MOISD Career Center, Miller Wing

Vicki Sawicki, from North Country CISMA, will talk about invasive species and the impacts they may have on your gardening endeavors. In addition to her lecture and Q & A opportunities, Vicki will have a hands-on project for attendees to do as well. Join Vicki and members of the Big Rapids Garden Club in what should be a very fun and informative presentation

7:00pm: Solo and Ensemble Performances - Immanuel Lutheran Church

Each year the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) and Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) present their annual Solo & Ensemble Festivals, an opportunity for individual students from member schools to perform a selection of their choice for adjudication. District-level festivals are held in late January through midFebruary. Each student or group of students is evaluated by a judge and rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest rating possible. Students or groups that earn a rating of 1 (or "Superior") are qualified for State Solo & Ensemble Festivals, which are held in March. The basic structure of State Solo & Ensemble Festival is the same as District, but the students are held to a higher standard.

Come and enjoy a variety of performances by area high school instrumentalists and vocalists who have recently participated in district festivals and are now preparing for their state festival events. What a wonderful opportunity to hear talented young musicians in solo and small ensemble settings, and encourage them in their musical endeavors!

This event listing provided for the Big Rapids community events calendar. Community events are not associated with or sponsored by AARP, but may be of interest to you. We want to hear from you if you have an event to share or updates to this event.

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