More than 225 artists, three dozen performances on four stages, 20-plus food vendors, all spread across more than 15 acres, and at least 20 hands-on activities for kids and adults -- there's a lot to see and do at the Fifth Third Broad Ripple Art Fair, taking place on the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center and Opti-Park Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18.
Luckily, central Indiana has a few experts on the topic -- local artists and craftspeople who not only sell their creations at the event but also enjoy the experience as participants. Discover their secrets for making the most of the day, as well as a bit about the art they create.
Beryl Schmid, Weaver
A BRAF artist for years now, Schmid uses fine threads of silk, wool and linen to weave scarves and shawls, occasionally incorporating Japanese paper and other unusual fibers. Her distinctive offerings include black and white designs, double-weave linen scarves and textured, shrunken wool pieces.
Tip for first-timers:
If something really interests you, don't be afraid to ask questions of the artist. Most people are happy to talk about their work and the exchange is good both ways.
Three adjectives to describe BRAF:
Diverse, Interesting and Fun.
Justin Vining, Painter
In his third year as a participating artist, Vining describes his work with an interesting juxtaposition: "If Dr. Seuss & Tim Burton were to collaborate and paint rural Midwestern landscapes, it would probably look similar to my work. I create colorful watercolor paintings on handmade paper and will have framed original work in my booth."
Tips for first-timers:
There are five different areas where booths are concentrated. I'd make sure you see them all. It is surprising to me how often I hear of someone completely missing an entire area of the show.
Parking can be tough in the neighborhood, perhaps consider riding a bike over via the Monon Trail. The last three years there has been a place right on the Monon where you can safely & securely check your bike for free.
The event is hosted by the Indianapolis Art Center and while there, I'd recommend going inside the Art Center to check out the current exhibit, "Art From the Heartland," which was curated by Sarah Green. It's an awesome show!
Douglas David, Painter
David has exhibited and sold his oil paintings at BRAF for 19 years. His work, which you could describe as American or even, per his own description, Indiana Impressionism, depicts landscapes, seascapes, flowers and "a few others that don't fit in those categories -- one great new one of the Kessler Street bridge over the canal.
The best part of participating:
BRAF is such a great event, Indianapolis Art Center's big annual fundraiser, it's a time to show new work, visit with patrons and friends, and meet new folks interested in buying some art and starting their collection!
Tips for first-timers:
Enjoy and relax. Really look at the diversity of work and where the artists come from. These folks are juried by a professional panel and just not everyone makes it in. It is a tough process and it is all done to bring you the best quality and selection of artists in the Midwest right now. I am so proud to be a part of it.
Don't overlook the food or the performance art. It is also such a sense of community and of "spring" in Indianapolis. I wouldn't rather be ANY OTHER place on this weekend. I love it.
Key recommendation for BRAF:
Bring Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. A sweatshirt if it is cool. Just try to relax and enjoy the day without any demands.
Heidi Mandich, Jewelry Designer
Mandich began with BRAF as an Indianapolis Art Center student artist in 2006. In 2011, she turned her creative sideline making jewelry into a full-time job. She's been a professional artist with an outside booth for four years, selling her pieces that begin as sheet metal and wire, mostly Argentium sterling silver. She shapes them "into pieces that often mirror nature by sawing, forging, soldering, adding textures or other metal accents in gold or copper or stones."
Tip for first-timers:
Spend the day. Be sure to see all the areas and artists. Enjoy lunch. Take time to hear some of the music while enjoying wine or craft beer.
Go inside the [Indianapolis Art Center] building. See the demos in the glass studio and in metalworking, my studio home at the Art Center. Try your hand at throwing a pot on a pottery wheel. Watch them pour bronze and cast in the forging studio.
It's a great family event -- lots of activities focused on experiences for kids. But it's also a great event without kids, with all the music stages for entertainment, wine, beer, food and, of course, art.
With cool weather and clear skies back in the forecast, this weekend seems like a great time to get outdoors. And using these tips, your trip to the Broad Ripple Art Fair is bound to be culturally rich.