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'Plein Air' by Festival of the Arts has artists all over downtown Grand Rapids this weekend

Over 100 artists and a handful of musicians will be painting and performing all over the downtown area as part of an event that was planned as a special incarnation of the annual festival
Plein Air Event
Posted at 4:37 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 16:48:09-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Festival of the Arts, an annual event that happens in downtown Grand Rapids, won't be happening in the traditional sense this year, but the organizers behind the beloved event have an incredible experience nonetheless planned for this weekend.

Their Plein Air event will see over 100 artists, and a handful of musicians, creating and performing all over the city Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Artist Judy Johnson of Kalamazoo Paints a Stretch of Monroe Center

“It's great to be out here with this weather and to see all the people up and down Monroe Center,” David Abbott, executive director of the Festival of the Arts, told FOX 17 Friday afternoon.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to try and do something completely different this year.”

There won't be the typical food tents and vendors we've come to expect from the Festival. Instead, folks are encouraged to stop by a downtown restaurant while enjoying a smattering of public art.

Director of Plein Air Artists of West Michigan, Richard Jordan, Paints Monument Park

Plein Air is kind of short for En Plein Air, which is a French term for painting in the outdoors,” Abbott explained.

“We are so very proud of our downtown Grand Rapids community, so we wanted to bring in our artists to paint the monuments, to paint the activity that's going up and down our streets.”

Over 100 artists will be spread all over the downtown area, the West Side of the city, and near Studio Park. There will also be musicians performing around the city Saturday.

And this year, you will get the chance to have an intimate experience with the process of creating pieces of art— to watch as they paint different Grand Rapids locations.

Artist Shelly Kaye Displays Painting She Did of Rosa Parks Circle

Not only that, but this year you will also be able to purchase prints of the pieces while they're being created in front of your eyes.

“You’ll be able to go online and purchase the art or purchase a digital copy of the art,” Abbott said.

“The majority of that money all goes to the artists, and artists right now need an opportunity to sell more of their work. “

You can find more information about purchasing copies of the paintings you see on the Festival of the Arts website.

The full schedule includes:

  • June 2 – 4: Kids take away paint activities being handed out in local parks

Wednesday, June 2, 6 – 8:30 p.m. Richmond Park, 1101 Richmond St NW.

Thursday, June 3, 6 – 8:30 p.m. Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Avenue NW.

Friday, June 4, 6 – 8:30 p.m. McKay Jaycee Park, 2531 Kalamazoo Ave SE.

  • Friday, June 4: Performances by Opera GR, Diatribe and others, as well as the Bivins Legacy Award presentation, to be shown at Studio Park downtown from 5-6:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own chairs and enjoy from the grass/park.
  • Saturday, June 5: Live musicians in social zones from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Ongoing through July 4: A virtual Regional Arts Exhibition and Competition including art inspired by the Grand River Virtual Youth Arts Exhibition

Festival merchandise may be purchased here.