East Lansing Art Festival

By Ashiyr Pierson

The 48th annual East Lansing Art Festival took place from May 21 to May 22, bringing together artists, sculptors, designers, and photographers from all over Michigan and the country.

Jewelry, wood and plexi-glass sculptures, instruments, photos, clothing, tile art, and a lot more graced downtown East Lansing over the weekend, and the diverse array of cultures portrayed in the art was astonishing.

It was as if one was walking through 10 different art museums from around the world.

People of all sorts flocked to the festival on the steamy weekend in the Lansing suburb and local businesses amply took advantage of the opportunity.

“We get a lot more business than we usually do during the festival,” said Natasha McCastle, a cashier at the Union Pizzeria at the MSU Union. “It also helps that it’s about 85 degrees outside.”

Hot it was, and ice cream and water vendors were all over the place making the best of it. The bars were having art festival sales trying (and succeeding) to draw in the festival crowd, and the line in the MSU dairy store had at least 25 people.

Getting back on topic, several artists in particular that wowed with their art were Merle Randolph, Lucy Phelps and Chester Winowiecki.

Merle Randolph is a sculptor/ welder from Ohio that has a particular talent with steel.

“I am semi-retired now after working in the corporate world and now I’m just doing what I want to do,” said Randolph. “It’s time consuming though; it takes around 400 hours to properly polish the pieces.”

Lucy Phelps sculpts plexi-glass into crystalline formations with different hues and sizes. The pieces range from less than a foot tall to more than three feet tall.

Chester Winowiecki is a potter that constructs mugs, pots, and for the festival, instruments. He mostly makes drums that take their origin from Northern Africa and the Middle East.

“I mostly get my ideas from the Internet and I’ve been doing this for about eight to 10 years,” said Winowiecki.

The other art in the festival was as diverse in its origins as Winowiecki’s work. Many photos and sculptures were of the orient. There were those of Western Africa and, of course, there were those that were homegrown.

“We’re here in Lansing, kinda’ north of Old Town a little ways,” said Katherine Hobson, an artist that makes tile portraits. “We sell at festivals all over the country, and we sell a few of our works at our studio,” a plan of action shared by many of the artists participating.

Besides the art, there was music and plenty of food. Other than main restaurants posted up, there were tents where festivalgoers could get overpriced fries, chicken and other snacks, a mainstay at festivals in this state.

Music-wise there was World, R&B, Soul, Bossa Nova, Samba, Rock, Funk, Jazz, and Folk music available all weekend providing the crowds with more culture.

All in all, the festival was a success, and for those that love the arts, it was a must attend.


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