Black Swamp Arts Festival leaps into Bowling GreenWritten by Toledo Free Press Staff Writers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout the Sept. 10 weekend, art displays, live art exhibits and live music stages will cover Bowling Green’s Main Street as the 18th annual Black Swamp Arts Festival gets under way.
The Black Swamp Arts Festival has taken place every fall since 1993. It was founded to celebrate and connect the arts in the community.
Since then, the free festival has expanded to attract growing numbers of people who come to display their artwork and those people who come to see it.
The festival also features a variety of live music on four different stages. The downtown areas of Main Street will be closed to traffic to make room for hundreds of art displays.
Beginning Sept. 10 at 5 p.m., bands will perform on the main stage along with concessions stands open until midnight. On Sept. 11 and 12, the festival will feature the youth and visual arts displays, an “Artists At Work” exhibit, and musical performances throughout the day.
Festival Chair Kelli Kling said she is looking forward to this year’s festival and is happy to see new things mixed in.
“One thing I am really excited about is to see things networked or linked together,” she said.
Kling said one example of this is visual art crossing over into the music. She said one of the bands performing Sept. 10 on the main stage, Los Straitjackets, will get audiences involved, wearing Luchador masks that will tie in with a youth arts exhibit.
“It’s a fun activity for the kids and it ties in with the music,” she said.
Fine arts booths at the festival feature hundreds of local and national artists who come to display and sell their artwork. A juried art show will include 112 artists in styles ranging from watercolor painting, jewelry, sculpture, photography, multimedia and glass.
The festival will feature about 40 musical acts from around the country that will perform throughout the weekend. Many shows will take place on the Main Stage located off South Main Street behind Panera Bread and Sam B’s restaurants beginning the evening of Sept. 10.
On Sept. 11 and 12, the Strange Stage, located in Grumpy Dave’s Pub, as well as the Family Entertainment Stage near the Wood County Public Library off North Main Street, will feature live music. Acoustic performances will be scattered throughout the festival site and in the Huntington Bank Courtyard.
“We take a lot of pride in our small community,” Kling said. “I think our music talent is better than other festivals our size because we treat our guests right.”
Kling also said one of the events she is excited about is the “Artists At Work” section, an exhibit of live arts and crafts. This section will include the several artists that will be restoring the Great Black Swamp Mural on the north side of Mesmerize on South Main Street. The live exhibit will feature artists like Sayaka Ganz, a sculptor and “found objects” artist. Ganz uses everyday objects such as straws, spoons, spatulas and more to construct eccentric pieces of art. The “Artists At Work” section also allows the public to join in and work with the artists to construct various pieces of art.
According to a news release, the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s art show earned top 100 honors from Sunshine Artist Magazine. The festival ranked 55th in the magazine’s listings of Fine Art and Design Shows for 2009.
All art displays at the festival will be from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information on festival hours, schedule of events and bands, visit blackswamparts.org.
This weekend, a group of artists will work to restore the Great Black Swamp Mural in downtown Bowling Green as part of a live exhibit during the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
Painted on the outer north side at Mesmerize, 181 S. Main Street, the Great Black Swamp Mural is an image that was originally suggested by BGSU students, incorporating elements that represent the cultural heritage of the area.
The mural will be repainted this weekend by a group of artists as part of the “Artists At Work” exhibit of the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
The mural was first painted over the brick wall in the summer of 1994. It was designed by then BGSU faculty member and artist Adrian Tio along with university students. It was later painted by a group of young artists under the direction of artist Kevin Kennair.
Downtown BG Director Barbara Ruland described the original mural as a collage of images that the students thought
conveyed the history of Bowling Green. She said the restoration of the mural is something that the design committee of Downtown BG started discussing a year ago.
“We’re very excited about doing it,” she said. “We want to restore the very spirit that brought the original mural to life.”
Funding for restoring the mural will come from Downtown BG, the Black Swamp Arts Festival committee, Grounds For Thought and the BGSU School of Art. — Andrew Farr
Great Black Swamp Arts Festival
“It’s a nice outcome of volunteer work in the community,” Ruland said.
Gordon Ricketts, professor in the School of Art at BGSU is in charge of the restoration and painting of the mural. Ricketts will coordinate a team of about six other artists from the BGSU School of Art and other local artists from Friday through Sunday to complete the restoration.
Ricketts said he has experience painting murals and is excited about working on this one during the “Artists At Work” exhibit, but is hoping the project won’t cause too much hassle.
“I’ve painted a number of murals and I have a sense of anxiety when I go to paint one sometimes,” he said. “I always get nervous because of the size and the detail that goes into it.”
But Rickets said the project will be a good one because it is something everyone in the community can get involved with and have a chance to watch as it is being completed during the festival.
“We want it to look good and we want to do a good job for the community,” he said.
The restoration of the Great Black Swamp mural will be the second mural in downtown BG to be completed in the last month. Artist Kevin Pierce completed another mural in early August on the outer west side of Ben Franklin Crafts. That mural was also representative of Bowling Green history, depicting the BG wind turbines, Jerome Library and the Cla-Zel Theater.
— Andrew Farr
Surf’s up: Los Straitjackets to hang ten at Black Swamp Fest
When Dick Dale and his Del-Tones’ “Misirlou” ripped across the opening credits of “Pulp Fiction” in 1994, Los Straitjackets had paddled out and were waiting to ride the wave of retro music.
The quartet originally formed in 1988 but members had other gigs to play.
“When we got back together in ’94, the timing was everything because the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ came out, and all of a sudden there were surf instrumental bands in every city in America whereas there hadn’t been any in 20 or 30 years,” guitarist and co-founder Eddie Angel said.
In 1995, the group released its first disc, “The Utterly Fantastic and Totally Unbelievable Sound of Los Straitjackets.”
“The first three years of the band, we toured nonstop from ’95 to ’98, and I remember one day thinking, ‘wow, I’m making a living doing this’,” he said during a call from his Nashville home.
Angel, guitarist and co-founder Danny Amis, bass player Pete Curry and drummer Jason Smay sport matching attire and instruments — and wear masks.
“When we were rehearsing at Danny’s house, he had a big box of these wrestling masks because he’d been going to Mexico City a couple times a year,” Angel said. “We thought for the first gig, we’re going to wear them maybe for a couple songs and then we’re going to take them off.
“We almost chickened out for the first gig because we were playing in our hometown for our friends and family, and we thought these people are going to think we’re idiots. But after the show, it was obvious we had to keep [the masks]; it was a big hit.”
On stage with masks, Amis is Daddy-O Grande, Curry is Pedro Del Mar, Smay is Teen Beat, and Angel is Eddie Angel.
“If you’re going to play retro rock ’n’ roll like we do, you had to do something to dress it up and put a new spin on it otherwise people would think, well, we heard that before,” Angel said. “We always took the music seriously.”
In addition to tight playing, these guys can move.
“We do these synchronized moves that are more based on early ’60s instrumental bands; we don’t do choreography like you’d see at a Madonna show,” Angel joked.
The foursome’s 11th studio disc, “The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets,” was released last year.
Los Straitjackets will play the main stage at the Black Swamp Music Festival at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 and the family stage at 4 p.m. Sept. 11. Admission is free. For a complete schedule, go to www.blackswamparts.org.
Amis, who recently was diagnosed with cancer, will be replaced by his cousin, Gregorio El Grande.
“[Gregorio’s] a really excellent guitar player, and he’s doing lead on a few songs — ‘Soul Finger’ by The Bar-Kays and he’s doing ‘You Send Me,’ the Sam Cooke song,” Angel said. “They turned out to be showstoppers, so he’s doing a great job.” — Vicki L. Kroll