Local Flair: ‘Artigras’ arts festival returns

The 2014 Artigras will focus provide visitors with the opportunity to view and purchase art from more than 60 local and regional artists. (Submitted photos/AMDUR PRODUCTIONS)

The 2014 Artigras will focus provide visitors with the opportunity to view and purchase art from more than 60 local and regional artists. (Submitted photos/AMDUR PRODUCTIONS)

The 2014 Artigras focus will provide visitors with the opportunity to view and purchase art from more than 60 local and regional artists. (Submitted photos/AMDUR PRODUCTIONS)

NEW BUFFALO—New Buffalo’s annual arts festival, Artigras, will be returning for its third year on the weekend of June 28-29, but visitors will be treated to an event that has a much more local flavor this year.

“This is our third annual art festival, and one of the things we’d seen in the first two years was that we wanted to focus more on our local and regional artists,” said Cathi Rogers, the recently-appointed executive director of the New Buffalo Business Association.

“Since April, we’ve been looking at what we could do to promote local artisans,” Rogers said. “Since we have such a large local art scene, we wanted to see 80 to 90 percent of the artists come from within a 30- to 40-mile radius of here.”

With that goal in mind, organizers put out a call to local artists.

“The goal was originally to get 40 artists, and now we are up to 61,” Rogers said. “More than 95 percent are from the area, including St. Joe, Chesterton, Valparaiso, Michigan City, and a couple artists from South Bend. Most of the artists are from here, or they have some connection to the Harbor Country area. A couple artists are from Chicago, but they also have homes here. The one coming from the furthest away is from Wisconsin.”

Some of the local artists who will be participating this year are Sawyer’s Fritz Olsen, specializing in sculpture; Stevensville’s Cathy Brown, specializing in jewelry; St. Joseph-based Lake Michigan Wood Works; Union Pier’s Susan Henshaw, specializing in pastel drawings; and Bridgman’s Ronald Stec, a landscape painter.

Some of the participating regional artists include Don Brown of Naperville, IL, who specializes in oil paintings; Barbara Balis of Michigan City, IN, who specializes in 2-D mixed media; Fire Cut Glass from Monee, IL; and Hook Pottery Paper of La Porte, IN, specializing in ceramics and paper arts.

“We’ve got a nice representation of the region, which is what we wanted,” Rogers said.

While this re-focusing of the festival has lead to its being smaller in size than in years past—down from 131 artists last year—Rodgers is pleased with the outcome, and organizers have added a completely new aspect to the festival as well.

“Another caveat we had was that we wanted to promote the local galleries. So, we put together a map for a gallery tour this year, promoting about 20 local galleries in Harbor Country,” Rogers explained. “After the art fair, people can use the map to tour the various galleries in the eight towns of Harbor Country.”

Continuing the focus on local businesses, organizers decided to promote local eateries during the festival rather than bringing in outside food vendors as they have done in past years.

“We prefer to promote and support our own local businesses,” Rogers explained. “We have five restaurants and delis within a two-block radius of Whittaker St. We’ve talked to all of them, and they’ll be prepared for loads of people.”

With these modifications, the 2014 Artigras will be more closely aligned with the mission of the New Buffalo Business Association.

“It’s been an opportunity to reenergize and reorganize the festival so that it supports and promotes the local businesses and arts more,” Rogers said. “We really believe in our hearts that that’s what this business association should be about.”

The free festival will take place in downtown New Buffalo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29. More information is available at www.newbuffalo.org, and visitors can pick up maps for the Harbor Country gallery tour at the information booth that will be set up at the festival.

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