Iowa City welcomes summer with art (web only)

BY CAROLINE BERG | MAY 15, 2009 7:26 AM

Summer in Iowa City is full of festivities including “Favorite Festival” award-winner, the Iowa Arts Festival.

The Daily Iowan may be going on hiatus for a few weeks, but that’s no reason to put on an ignorant cap or leave town. The semester’s end commences the most joyous transition into summer, and Iowa City has the amenities necessary for its dwellers to fully bask in warm weather leisure. Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts (SotA) coalition organizes one of the summer’s top events: this June’s award-winning Iowa Arts Festival.

“The whole basis of the Arts Festival is to make all sorts of art forms available to the community,” said Mary Frieden, SotA’s executive director.

Downtown Iowa City will host over 140 artists the weekend of June 5, 6, and 7 for the event. The scope of festivities has greatly expanded this year, extending to include two additional streets. But growth doesn’t mean cost, as the event is still free and open to the public.

“Art is often seen as something you have to spend money to enjoy, such as visiting high-brow art galleries,” Frieden said. “But the Arts Festival proves this is not the case.”

Among the eclectic list of arts and crafts activities that will be provided, Iowa City’s Home Ec. Workshop, 207 N. Linn, will contribute sewing tutorials, the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn, will supply dress for costume photographs, and the Quad City Magic Club will spellbind audiences with illusions.

The Rockwell Collins-Family Stage will offer entertainment including puppetry, Aztec storytelling, and Irish dancing.

“We like to give the community a taste of civilizations from all over the world,” Frieden said of the June 6 Global Village theme. Like Disney Epcot’s World Showcase, Iowa City’s Global Village offers exposure to a variety of nations through games, language learning, and music. Passports are distributed at the festival and allow guests to enter areas dedicated to countries including Germany, Sudan, and Indonesia.

The Global Village is not the only opportunity to travel outside Iowa. The festival’s Culinary Row is the place to indulge in exotic flavors.

“We provide a full range of different types of cuisine including Mediterranean, Italian, and Greek,” Frieden said. “But we’ve also got good ole American with pizza, hamburgers, and pulled pork.” The event is also vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Iowa City’s SotA crew has attracted an illustrious collection of musical acts to entertain even the most grizzled of festival participants. The musical roster consists of divergent sounds with indie-rock band The Damnwells and alternative swing/jazzers Squirrel Nut Zippers sharing the bill.

Alternative country-rock singer-songwriter Kevin Gordon of the Kevin Gordon Band is “all excited about playing new songs” at the festival. The Writers’ Workshop alum will perform on June 6.

“I think it’s my best work yet,” Gordon said about his new tracks.

While summer means no classes and plenty of time to drink, with the Iowa Arts Festival, SotA quenches a different kind of thirst.

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