Archived Story

From ‘clothesline fair’ to 216 artists

Published 3:43pm Friday, July 1, 2011

The Krasl Art Fair has grown from a one-day fair with 3,000 visitors in 1962 to a two-day event with more than 70,000 visitors. Photo submitted


Blue Star Highway

The second weekend in July marks the 50th anniversary of Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff along Lake Boulevard in downtown St. Joseph.

Stroll along the bluff July 9-10 and view works by 216 artists — a staggering number that breaks down into 92 returning artists, 24 rejuried artists and, incredibly, 100 new artists. More than half the states will be represented, in addition to one artist from England.

What started as a “clothesline” art fair in 1962 with 50 artists has grown tremendously in the last 50 years.

“Since 1962, the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff has grown from a one-day fair with 3,000 visitors to a nationally recognized, two-day event with more than 70,000 visitors,” said Krasl Art Center (KAC) Executive Director Julia Gourley.

More than 800 artists applied to show their wares at this year’s art fair. Those selected represent myriad art forms including paintings, drawings, prints, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, metalwork, photography, digital art, fiber works, glass and wood art.

A variety of other activities surround the art on display. The Krasl Kids’ Zone and Stage offer an area on the KAC grounds for kids to dig into art activities and entertainment. Local musicians will perform at the food court stage, where nearby you can also grab a tempting meal, snack or drink from a local vendor.

During the weekend, visitors who fancy themselves even the slightest bit artistic can join in the creative expression by contributing to an on-site mural installation.

The mural, dubbed “Us By Numbers,” will be set up in front of the Curious Kids Museum and all passersby are welcome to add to the painting. After the art fair, the mural will become a part of the Krasl Decorative Art Collection and be displayed inside the KAC.

New and exclusive to this year’s festivities is a Friday night kick-off party July 8 at the KAC. Veda Kirchner, a Krasl volunteer, said the party is “a unique addition to this year’s festivities” in celebration of the art fair’s 50th anniversary.

A thank you for a half-century of community support, the rollicking kick-off party begins at 5 p.m. and fills the evening until 10 p.m. with live entertainment on the Gladiator stage, a preview of art in the show, food from local restaurants, art activities for kids and a wine tasting tent.

During the preview party, one can also check out an installation featuring artwork from all of the past 49 Krasl Art Fairs. Most of the items are on loan to the KAC from buyers’ private art collections.

Another extension of the art fair is the ninth annual Smooth Jazz at Sunset. This year’s performance features saxophonist Richard Elliott with guitarist Bryan Lubeck opening at the Shadowland Pavilion Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff will be bursting with artwork ripe for exploration from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 10. Admission to the fair is free, while tickets for Smooth Jazz at Sunset are available online, by phone or in person at the event (visit for details).

Parking near the art fair is limited to free lots in downtown St. Joseph and some blocks of city streets. Free shuttle service will be available from Kelly’s Bowl at 2705 Cleveland Ave. and the Renaissance Business Center at Edgewater just off M-63 on Momany Drive.

For more information, visit

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