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Broad Ripple Art Fair this Weekend

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Not too long ago, Justin Vining was studying for his doctorate degree at the Valparaiso University School of Law. Since graduating though, the longtime lover of the arts has found himself pursuing a significantly different career field, as a full-time painter.

“I was an elementary school art teacher for three years, and always had a passion for art, but I never really thought of myself as an artist,” says the Indiana native. “But, I ended up going to law school, found my artistic voice, started selling work and found modest success doing that. By the time I graduated, I was consistently selling paintings, and long story short, I’ve been a full-time painter now for four years.”

Now for the fourth consecutive year, the local wunderkind will be one of more than 225 nationally recognized artists and artisans selling work at the 45th annual Broad Ripple Art Fair, which happens this Saturday and Sunday (May 16 and 17). As tradition has it, the fair will be on the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center, the 12-acre ArtsPark and the North Side Optimist Opti-Park. In addition to the juried selection of artists on hand, the fair will also include a diverse lineup of bands and performers spread across three outdoor entertainment stages, a wide variety of hands-on activities and much, much more.

A Midwest landscape painter for one, Vining says he's hard to lump into one category. His work range from traditional plein air to illustrative watercolors. - COURTESY OF JUSTIN VINING
  • Courtesy of Justin Vining
  • A Midwest landscape painter for one, Vining says he's hard to lump into one category. His work range from traditional plein air to illustrative watercolors.

Vining’s relationship with the Broad Ripple Art Fair first began as an attendee in the mid 2000s, where he remembers being immediately impressed by the “sheer range of artists” represented. It wouldn’t be until 2012 that the then Broad Ripple-dwelling painter would first take part in the event as an exhibiting artist, however. He recalls, “Since they were inviting all these fabulous artists from all over the country to exhibit and I was the neighborhood guy, I wanted to be there and be a part of the event.”

Vining finds the most inspiration from the regionalists of the 30s, 40s and 50s -- Thomas Hart, Benton, Grant Wood and the like. - COURTESY OF JUSTIN VINING
  • Courtesy of Justin Vining
  • Vining finds the most inspiration from the regionalists of the 30s, 40s and 50s -- Thomas Hart, Benton, Grant Wood and the like.

Unlike many of his contemporaries though, Vining has since shied away from “the traditional art fair circuit,” choosing to solely take part in Indiana art fairs instead. This hasn’t kept him from interacting with plenty of out-of-state artists over time. In fact, he admits that his inner art-collecting self really looks forward to the Broad Ripple Art Fair every year, thanks to its national draw.

“Some of my favorite artists are not Indiana-based or Midwest-based,” Vining says. “And because it does bring in top national talent, this fair is my only time all year to visit with these people and see their work in person.”

Local musician Dan Snodgrass is also looking forward to interacting with artists from around the nation, too, but for a different reason. Performing with his band the Bonesetters on the Broad Ripple Art Fair’s WTTS Rock Stage, the lead vocalist/guitarist sees the fair as a great opportunity to soak in some refreshing new perspectives.

“You have so many talented people doing great work [in Indianapolis]; influencing each other, and the city,” Snodgrass says. “But, this fest also brings in outside influences that can reinvigorate or change someone's approach.”

Snodgrass rocks out with Cody Davis, Drew Malott and Sam Shafer in The Bonesetters, who will perform at the Broad Ripple Art Fair 2015. - PHOTO BY XANIC LOPEZ
  • Photo by Xanic Lopez
  • Snodgrass rocks out with Cody Davis, Drew Malott and Sam Shafer in The Bonesetters, who will perform at the Broad Ripple Art Fair 2015.

With the fair’s numerous elements, the Indianapolis Art Center aims to foster a stimulating experience for everyone, whether they’re a serious art collector or quite the opposite.

Director of Communications at IAC (and Sky Blue Window frequent contributor) Ben Shine explains, “It’s just being intentional, and that everything we do involves a higher level of creativity. We don’t want it to be where people come and just walk around and look at booths and go home.” So in addition to the fair’s many featured artists, musicians and performers, other engaging elements will include:

  • Hands-on art activities and demonstrations in every studio inside the Art Center

  • An indoor WFYI Kids’ Stage

  • Interactive art activities and pop-up performances all over the fair

  • An “Emerging Artist” area, where Art Center students can experience life as a professional artist

In hosting this all-encompassing fair, the IAC hopes that visitors can get a real taste of the numerous services it offers to the public. Shine explains, “We want it to truly represent what we do here at the Art Center.” And by simply buying a ticket to the two-day event, fairgoers should also know that they’re actually helping to make these services happen.

The Indianapolis Art Center to host its 45th year of the Broad Ripple Art Fair this Saturday and Sunday. - COURTESY OF THE INDIANAPOLIS ART CENTER
  • Courtesy of the Indianapolis Art Center
  • The Indianapolis Art Center to host its 45th year of the Broad Ripple Art Fair this Saturday and Sunday.

“It helps us pay to keep class costs low,” Shine concludes. “It helps fund scholarships for people to connect with art who can’t afford it otherwise. It helps us keep our exhibitions and our grounds free all year round. And finally, it allows us to fund our outreach programs, which help take art out to underserved communities all around Indianapolis.”

So by attending the Indianapolis Art Fair and showing local creators such as Vining and Snodgrass their support, patrons can walk away knowing that they’re giving countless others in Indianapolis an opportunity to interact with the arts as well.

For more information on the Broad Ripple Art Fair, visit the Indianapolis Art Center’s website .

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