Ten day festival showcases Hot Springs arts community

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Editor’s note: The event featured in this article occurred in 2017, but we hear that this year’s will be the best yet. Find it on our Events page.

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Arts & The Park, a ten day festival of the arts in Hot Springs, is taking place April 28-May 7 to showcase the arts community of the city.  Over 60 events are on the lineup and artists like musicians, potters, sculptors, jewelers and more are taking part in the cultural celebration.

“The Hot Springs arts community has been thriving since the 1990s and recognized as one of the best small arts towns in the United States,” said Mary Neilson of the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, which puts on the event.  “We not only have galleries located in and around the historic downtown area we have numerous working artists living in the surrounding area as well as many arts organizations.”

Neilson said the festival is geared towards all ages and there is something for everyone from artists to art collectors. There will also be events throughout the ten day celebration such as artist demonstrations and workshops, concerts, poetry readings, live music, and outdoor festivals.

The festivities kick off with a launch party on April 28, which is one of the few events with a charge as most are free. Neilson said among the highlights of the first weekend are tours where artists invite the public into their studios to see their creative space, a free outdoor movie on Saturday night of the 1927 film Metropolis with live accompaniment on the lawn where the Majestic Hotel was once located and a concert by The Muses Creative Artistry Project on Sunday night.

“During the week there’s everything from a Historic Hot Springs Architectural Tour, a lecture by famous outdoor photographer Tim Ernst, artist workshops, and concerts.  Friday, May 5 is Gallery walk, a Hot Springs tradition that is held the first Friday of each month, a performance by The Pocket Theater and a poetry competition held in the Quapaw Bath House and Spa,” said Neilson.

The closing weekend of the festival hosts Art Springs, a two day outdoor arts festival at Hill Wheatley Plaza featuring artists from Arkansas and the surrounding states, music, poetry, food trucks, children’s activities, a production by Arkansas Children’s Theatre, Blues in the Schools workshops, and storytelling and crafts. That Saturday night, May 6, the Spa City Blues Society has put together a line-up of performers for a free concert there too called Arts & The Park After Dark.

The event is a project of the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes the arts in Hot Springs.  The alliance partners with other organizations to bring guest artists to the events. “This year’s guest artists include Little Rock painter and sculptor Kevin Kresse whose work will be featured in a pop-up gallery the Mountain Valley Spring Water building,” said Neilson. “Other guests  include Kansas City mural artist Phil Shafer of Sike Style who will be painting a mural as part of studio tours, Mountain Valley Spring Water is sponsoring a lecture with Tim Ernst, and Fred and Gloria Gardner are a Dallas based couple that do children’s storytelling and Fred Gardner is a talented wood cut artist.”

A complete schedule of events  can be found online at HotSpringsArts.org or by picking up a copy of the program. Neilson said the festival hub will be in the Mountain Valley Spring Water building located at 150 Central Avenue where programs, maps, and volunteers can assist visitors as “they explore and experience our thriving arts community.”