Artists of all different backgrounds showcase their work at the East Lansing Art Festival

Over 170 artists began lining their tents down M.A.C. and Albert Avenue in East Lansing for the 59th Annual Art Festival this weekend.

The festival is running Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and today, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to its website, the festival’s mission is to “enhance the sense of community and appreciation of art, culture and creativity in East Lansing and the greater Lansing region.”

Kimberly Arden

Polymer artist Kimberly Arden has been making jewelry for 34 years. She said she loves the East Lansing Art Festival so much that she’s spending her birthday working it. 

“I’ve done this show now three times on my birthday,” Arden said. “So I’m giving up a perfectly good day to go do whatever, and here I am instead.”

Arden’s jewelry is made by hand mixing colors and building designs out of clay. She then slices one individual piece at a time and makes beads and pendants that she strings together to make various pieces. 

“People that have either a sense of humor or upbeat people love my stuff,” Arden said.

Sarah Jean Anderson

Artist Sarah Jean Anderson from Grand Rapids came to the festival for the first time this year. She describes her style as “lowbrow outsider mixed-media”—‘Outsider’ meaning that she did not go to art school. 

“Sometimes it’s icky,” Anderson said. “I like to find the beauty in all the things.”

The festival was advertised as a “rain-or-shine” event, but Anderson experienced some difficulties with the weather. Her tent and artwork blew down in the middle of the night due to the wind. 

“The volunteers, they brought all my stuff somewhere, and then they gave me another tent,” Anderson said. “The people running this, they’re wonderful people.”

Though Anderson mostly sells her artwork online, she said that selling in person at festivals is more fun, because she can see the reaction that people have to her work. 

“I want somebody to smile or laugh … just for a second be in a different space,” Anderson said. “I get to actually see somebody laughing or it reminds them of someone they love … that’s my favorite. And you can only get that when you sell in person.”

Inty Muenala 

Visual artist Inty Muenala is from Ecuador but now lives in Commerce Township. His work includes paintings, installations and performance. 

“I do artwork about Native American symbols and the modern history,” Muenala said.

Some of the art that he showcased at the festival covered the topics of “connection to Mother Earth”, animal spirit, Line 5 issues and protecting the water supply. 

Cory Bechler 

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Ceramic artist and school teacher Cory Bechler describes pottery as his “de-stressor.” His pieces depict animals in a more eclectic, whimsical manner. 

“I live up in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park,” Bechler said. “So I’m inspired by those birds and find the ones I see on a daily basis, but I like to quantify them a little bit.”

Traveling to East Lansing was successful for Bechler — he said the show is always financially beneficial for him. 

“East Lansing is a fantastic town to hang out in,” Becker said. “This is a fantastic show for customers from literally all over Mid-Michigan to come to.”


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