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Artosphere: Arkansas’ Arts & Nature Festival Kicks Off on Earth Day

Artosphere: Arkansas’ Arts & Nature Festival Kicks Off on Earth Day

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Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Artosphere: Arkansas’ Arts & Nature Festival runs for six weeks beginning in April and celebrates not only the arts in all forms, but also artists, influenced by nature, who inspire people to live more sustainable lives. So it should be no surprise that it kicks off on Earth Day, April 22.

Presented by the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, events and performances take place throughout northwest Arkansas at traditional locales as well as unusual settings. Music, theater, dance, visual arts, lectures and more can be found on stages and in auditoriums as well as on bike trails and in state parks. This is the second year for the multi-week event.

“This is a new kind of festival for Arkansas. Artosphere was inspired by the natural beauty of our state and regional focus on sustainability,” explained Peter Lane, CEO and president of Walton Arts Center.

Approximately 80 plus events will be offered during the festival. Much of the programming is free or low cost. A festival pass can be purchased for $79 and is an all access pass for free admission to more than 20 ticketed events and VIP access to dozens of free events. See the full Artosphere lineup and order tickets at

The following are some of the featured events:

Garden as Muse

The exhibition, “Garden as Muse,” entails five contemporary artists’ illustrations of botanical themes through distinct styles and media that include photography, sculpture and painting. This exhibition is curated by Andrea Packard, director of the List Gallery at Swarthmore College. The free exhibit will be in the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville from April 22 through June 4. The opening reception will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. during the festival kickoff, and will include a “Creative Conversation with the Curator.”

Trail Mix Concert Tour

The Trail Mix Concert Tour from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 is one of the more unique events. You can walk or bike approximately 2.5 miles around the Fayetteville Nature Trail, stopping to hear band performances at five sites along the way. Stage and sound systems are powered by solar and pedal-powered electricity. The concert tour starts at North Shore Park, circling Lake Fayetteville clockwise, and ends at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Snacks and water are available along the trail. New this year are additional stations for arts activities, and “greening stations” where members of the Arkansas Energy Corps will offer useful tips and info about saving energy and living more sustainably. 

The Nature of Strings Chamber Music Series

Under the music direction of Christopher Parkening, the Chamber Music Series will showcase extraordinary musicians in intimate settings such as Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, St. Catherine's at Bell Gable in Fayetteville, and the Sculpture Trail at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The museum is slated to open Nov. 11 of this year.

Parkening is celebrated as one of the world’s preeminent virtuosos on classical guitar. The Washington Post described him to be “the leading guitar virtuoso of our day, combining profound musical insight with complete technical mastery of his instrument.”

Children’s Theater: Icelandic Sheep (Kindur) by TPO

Teatro Di Piazza O d’Occassione, Italy’s leading children’s theater company, brought The Butterfly Garden to last year’s Artosphere. This year it’s back with an ecological fairytale about Kindur, which means sheep in Icelandic. Best for ages four and up, the audience discovers the extraordinary environment landscape in each season, and myths and legends of Iceland through the eyes of kindur. Three performances are offered on Saturday, May 27 at the Walton Arts Center.

Children’s Theater:  Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch

The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia will perform an adaptation of Leo Lionni’s “Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 14 at the Walton Arts Center. This is a story of a tiny fish named Swimmy that uses ingenuity to fend off danger. The poetic mouse Frederick fills every day with art. The lovable inchworm likes to measure – everything. Aimed at pre-kindergarten to lower elementary students, the show features an assortment of puppetry styles, imaginative lighting, and original music.

Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem

This year’s Artosphere Resident Artist is Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem. The group will play at the Walton Arts Center’s Starr Theater and in area schools for concerts and workshops. In addition to rich four-part harmonies, they also are a unique example of musicians inspiring sustainable living. The band's fully recycled drum kit, called "The Drumship Enterprise," features a cardboard box, cat food tins, a Danish butter cookie tin, and a suitcase. Other 100 percent recycled instruments are their fiddle, guitar and bass.

Artosphere Festival Orchestra

New this year is the Artosphere Festival Orchestra making its debut at the Walton Arts Center under the baton of Music Director Corrado Rovaris. The AFO, which features 80 world-class musicians from around the country, will give several performances throughout the festival, two of which will be major orchestral works. It also will host the finalists of the Fulbright Piano Concerto Competition.

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