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Fourth Street Arts Festival brings life to Labor Day Weekend


Attendees line the street Saturday for the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts. The festival, which started in 1976, is an annual, two-day event organized by local artists who invite 120 artisans from around the country.  Zheng Guan Buy Photos

Every year on Labor Day Weekend, Fourth Street which is home to Bloomington’s many ethnic restaurants transforms to accommodate over 100 artists, live music and poetry readings into the Fourth Street Arts Festival. 

The festival welcomes artists from all types of creative disciplines, including ceramics, jewelry, painting, sculpture and fiber to name a few. Celebrating over 40 years of beautiful art, the festival prides itself on being admission free, according to a pamphlet given out at the volunteer tent.

“I specifically remember this one because my parents would always buy these huge stained glass pieces from this French guy, they were very colorful,” said Juliet Roberts, volunteer coordinator for the Fourth Street Arts Festival. “And I just became very affectionate with the culture of the festival.” 

Roberts who was born in Bloomington, said she’s been volunteering and working for the festival for the past 12 years in order to surround herself in the arts culture and serve her community. 

While people stopped and checked out the art inside the rows of white tents that lined either side of Fourth Street, the band Gritz & Honey played from the music stage that was set up on Grant Street.

The festival also had a spoken word stage presented by the Writers Guild of Bloomington set up on Dunn St. where live acts of poetry, theater, horror fiction, sonnets and story-telling were performed throughout the day.

“I did this festival a long time ago,” said artist Kwang Cha Brown, from Bloomington who was showcasing impressionist floral and landscape paintings. “This year I finally got back in and I’m so excited because I don’t have to stay in a hotel because my home is right here.” 

In her paintings, Brown utilizes thick layers of oil paint to create impressionistic pieces, many of which are inspired by her own flower garden. The 3D effects of using bold, richly colored paints is how she expresses her passion for nature’s raw beauty, according to Brown and her artist statement. 

All of the artists at the festival have to submit an application that includes four photos of their artwork. It is then reviewed by online jurors who pick the artists who can come and present their work. The festival also gives out a minimum prize of $3,000 by on-site jurors. The jurors for this year’s festival specialize in ceramics, sculpture, painting and drawing according to the festival’s online application criteria. 

The Fourth Street Arts Festival will be open again on Sunday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m., and will present a new line-up of musicians and spoken word artists. The schedule for these performances can be found online. 

“Support local artists or even not local artists,” said Kayla Pokalsey, a senior at IU studying community health. “It’s peoples passions, and I love supporting people’s passions.” 

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