‘Universal language’: Artists, organizers reflect on Carmel International Arts Festival value to community 


Crowds gather on Main Street for the 2018 Carmel international Arts Festival (File Photo)

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has always been a proponent of the role of arts plays in bringing value to a city.

“It adds vibrancy, fun, allows people to express themselves and adds to the quality of life,” Brainard said.

The 22nd annual Carmel International Arts Festival, set for Sept. 28 to 29, is a showcase for the city’s arts scene, Brainard said. The festival moved to the Arts & Design District in 2006.

“The arts festival is a particularly fun weekend,” Brainard said. “We have artists from all over the Midwest and other countries, in some cases, selling their arts on Main Street. It attracts a lot of people to Carmel. The weather is usually pretty good this time of year.”

The festival includes a music schedule highlighted by ART ROCKS!, a street party featuring The Bishops from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sept. 28.

The festival’s organizers and participants weigh in on the value art plays in shaping a community:

Joan Cimino, Carmel International Arts Festival president, Carmel resident

On importance of art to a community: “Art is important to me because I believe the arts are a universal language bringing together people of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. It is a means of communication that transcends words. I believe art beautifies our world, improves our minds and enables us to communicate. One of my favorite quotes and a lesson for life (is) from a well-known Indiana artist, Kurt Vonnegut: ‘Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your spirit grow.’”

On CIAF role in arts scene: “The Carmel International Arts Festival was formed to bring the arts to Carmel, to introduce art in all of its forms to the citizens of Carmel and the surrounding area. This tradition of art education is continued through the festival today. CIAF gives all attendees to the festival the chance to speak with the artists, discuss how the artists produced their art, what influenced them, what they are trying to convey and how they hope to share it.”

Mark L. Waninger, wood artist, Jamestown resident

On importance of art: “The influence of art in a community brings motion, movement, contour and flow. The artistic impact can be seen in the free-flowing designs of everything in our city, from the roundabouts to the architectural designs of buildings, bridges and sculptures. City planners, business owners and individual residents alike are experiencing art as an integral part of their environment. I like to be inspired, and the art in our community does that. For me, it is like comparing a drive across I-70 in Kansas, not to be disrespectful (but) boring and flat, to a drive through the rolling hills of our Hoosier National Forest — inspiring.”

On CIAF: “The Carmel International Arts Festival can be described as one of the major driving influences of art in the community. We artists help patrons feel good about themselves through the positive energy that comes from the shared beauty of our artwork. Young minds are intrigued with all of the different types of art, which will influence them for the rest of their lives. Architects, interior designers, business professionals, builders and homeowners are all in attendance, enjoying the innovative ideas on display. Each will find unique pieces of art to bring life into their specific space or design.”

Gavin Goode, Semperfly Studios owner, Carmel resident

On importance of art: “Visual and applied arts drive a community by causing us to think and communicate with one another. Not to mention driving the local economy by turning unwanted spaces into thriving hot spots for people to gather. It’s a very necessary part of a community. The festival is intricate in bringing artists from other communities and introducing new ideas other than the ‘cows, pastel flowers and cornfields’ that Carmel seems to have pigeonholed itself into.”

Mark Fraley, CIAF entertainment chair, Westfield resident

On impact of arts: “When most people think of art they see a painting, drawing or sculpture. They might hear singing, instruments being played or see actors on a stage. Is that the essence of what art is? The definition of art is given as the ‘expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.’ In short, it’s a process and not a product. The importance of art is not what you can see or hear, but what is learned in the process. Cultivating a mind that creates, conceptualizes and thinks outside the box is as valuable as math and science. We have been taught that right-brained people are creative and left-brained people are logical. Why not have a balance that encompasses both the creative and the logical? This is where the dreamers with big ideas come from. Not from one side or the other, but from the whole mind encompassing the creativity necessary to develop that big idea tempered with the logic to see it through.”

Carmel International Arts Festival

When: 10 a.m to 7 p.m. Sept. 28, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 29. ART ROCKS!, a street party featuring The Bishops, is set for 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sept. 28.

Where: Carmel Arts & Design District, centered around Main Street and Range Line Road

Admission: Free

Information: Food and beverages trucks will be on-site, along with restaurants along Main Street. For more, visit carmelartsfestival.org.

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