BRADENTON -- ArtSlam is about to explode on Old Main Street.
Site-specific art installations, interactive art experiences, as well as two stages featuring an eclectic lineup of musicians, performers and more will run the length of the road from 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday.
ArtSlam is part of Festival sARTee, held concurrently with the third annual Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota that concludes Sunday.
The downtown Bradenton celebration debuted last year and immediately distinguished itself as one of the pre-eminent arts events in Southwest Florida.
Realize Bradenton has organized a family friendly festival featuring out-of-the-box performance art, theater, dance, music, video art, an art fashion show, as well as a one-day community skateboard park and art project. Other activities include body-painting, marionette shows and the nighttime release of a thousand paper airplanes.
Festival organizers promise plenty of opportunities for audiences to become part of the art and performances. Attendees will be able to work on a potter’s wheel, help paint a community mural, create art from recyclables and dance to a variety of live music.
“The theme this year was more audience participation and creative use of the street-scape,” said Johnette Isham, executive director at Realize Bradenton. “There will be random acts of culture throughout the day and some real exciting surprises such as tap dancing in the streets.”
Realize Bradenton is a nonprofit organization that aims to make downtown Bradenton one of the best riverfront communities in the country.
“Everything Realize Bradenton does is about building community and promoting economic development,” Isham said. “The words that characterized ArtSlam are ‘collective creativity.’ It’s young professionals and senior citizen coming together for an event that has a draw regionally.”
ArtSlam will also feature a food court and downtown Bradenton restaurants and pubs are participating.
Fav’s Italian Cucina co-owner Mike Favasuli has spent the past 11 years on Old Main Street.
“ArtSlam is a wonderful event that brought us a great clientele last year,” he said. “I wish we made more cultural events like it.”
ArtSlam installations will be created on location during the eight-hour festival.
The participating teams are Body Art Slam, Community Totem Poles from Clay, 1,111 Windows to the Soul, Building Community, Little Chalkers, Re-Cycle of Seasons, Old Main Puppet Improv, Writings on the Wall, Manatee County Memories, Community Murals, Elision, Time to Fish, Art in the Air, ArtDeckO and A-maze-in’ Art.
Teams were chosen by Realize Bradenton and the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority’s Public Art Advisory Board. Judges will choose a winner and a runner-up. Attendees will vote on the audience choice award. Judging will be finalized at 10 p.m. and announced at 10:30 p.m.
“All the teams are so good and most are audience-interactive, which is wonderful,” said Kevin Webb, the creative services manager at Realize Bradenton. “To me, the best part of last year’s event was you could really feel the connection between artist and audience.”
Out of the Box is a new addition to ArtSlam featuring local musicians, dancers, theatrical and poetic artists. These performances run the entire day and will rotate between two performance areas: the main stage on Old Main near Manatee Avenue and a second stage by the intersection of Old Main and Fourth Avenue.
Making its community performance debut is the Open Door Band, a group of former and current homeless musicians from the Bill Galvano One-Stop Center. The Bayside Community Church Band will also perform and features respected local rock musician Ben Bakker, a Realize Bradenton board member. The RJ Howson Band, whose namesake leader recently performed at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg as part of the highly successful Beach Chair Blues Night, will close the day with Chicago-style blues on the main stage from 9 to 11 p.m.
Student dancers from New College are scheduled to perform and digital imaging/photography students from Ringling College of Art and Design will engage the crowd with videos that explore the impact of the media in shaping who we are.
“This not your typical music lineup,” said Laura McKeithen, the community builder at Realize Bradenton. “I’m really pleased with the diversity of the lineup and how it complements all the art installations.”
Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at (941) 745-7057. Visit his blog at heraldbuzzworthy.blogspot.com.