The Arts: Bentonville First Friday

Between the May Festival of the Arts in Eureka Springs, and Fayetteville’s new Artosphere regional arts festival, there are numerous art events taking place in northwest Arkansas. The Eureka Springs festival celebrates the arts throughout the entire month of May with events, activities, special exhibits, artist’s demonstrations, music and visual arts all represented. Artosphere is a new multi-week festival dedicated to celebrating artists who are influenced by nature and who help inspire people to live more sustainable lives. Created by the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, the festival includes more than 80 programs and events throughout the region. Join me and my “The Arts” blog to keep up with all the great arts and culture offerings over the next several weeks.

Jill M. Rohrbach
It’s happening today – the monthly First Friday event on the Bentonville downtown square from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. With its “Swing Into Spring” theme, the event offers live music, a wide array of food, eco-activities, gallery openings and live theater throughout the day.

Enjoy a live lunch concert by Irish singer and guitarist Oona Love from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. More music offerings will include Pickin’ on the Square, which has been a feature of the square for the past eight years. Coordinated by Jane and Richard Scates, this weekly bluegrass jam session is one of Bentonville’s simple summer pleasures. Every Friday evening starting around 6 p.m., a collection of musicians and fans get together and jam until late in the evening. During First Fridays, this event migrates to Dave Peel Park on East Central.

In addition to the music, you can catch a performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” presented by Bentonville High School’s theatre program. It takes place in Alley Theatre, a temporary theatre space created on the parking lot nestled between the old downtown movie theatre and the Bloom flower shop on West Central.

Other events on West Central include the exhibit of “Looking At Our Landscape” at Crystal Bridges at the Massey. The exhibit contains photographs exploring the natural world from more than 100 community members ranging in age from 12 to over 80. sUgAr Gallery, the University of Arkansas student and faculty showcase space, will open “Crafting Place: Interpretations of Natural and Constructed Environments from the Kitchen to the Forest.” This show was juried by Kenneth Trapp, former Chief Curator of the R Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. An opening reception is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Swing Into Spring program will also include several eco information booths such as the U.S. Green Building Council, Biz to Biz/GreenZine NWA, Eco Explique and several others. The NWA Young Professionals Sustainability Group will support the event by managing the recycling containers, and Walmart will post eco-facts around the square. In addition, the Walmart Visitor Center will hand out seed packets and green balloons. Green Analytics, a new eco-business located on the square, is holding its grand opening in conjunction with First Friday.

The Artosphere program spills over into the next day’s Bentonville Farmers Market, which runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Catch the Emmy Award-winning band Trout Fishing in America at 9 a.m. and spicy blues guitarist The Sauce Boss starting around 11 a.m. The Sauce Boss not only cooks up great blues, but fresh gumbo right on the stage. He’ll be handing out a free bowl of his signature dish at the end of his show. Also, Compton Gardens holds its Garden Fair and hosts a performance of Harmonious Wail starting at 1 p.m.

The First Friday season runs every first Friday of the month from March through November. The Bentonville Farmers Market runs every Saturday from late April to late October.

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