Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five Ways to Get the Most Out of Boston Mills ArtFest

Ever since I was born, my mom and I have been going to the Boston Mills ArtFest in Peninsula, a summer tradition that involves greasy burgers and jazz music, scenic park views and sunscreen -- and of course, art. Each year, we end up buying something useful and something absurdly ridiculous but awesome. Our house contains ArtFest purchases from all over the country: local and not-so-local artists’ metal furniture, colorful clocks and eclectic jewelry.

This year's Boston Mills ArtFest starts tomorrow night and runs through this weekend and next. If you’re heading to the festival and want to make the most of your time there, here are some suggestions:

1. Go both weekends. This year, the ArtFest is hosting two completely different shows with entirely different sets of artists, one this weekend, one next. Director Ron Beahn says over 700 artists applied this year for about 300 slots. Even if you’ve gone before and see an artist you remember from years past, their bodies of work are always evolving, so it’s worth it to see what they’ve added to their repertoire.

2. Buy the craziest, most whimsical pieces you can find. I’ve got tons in my room: mermaids, neon lizards, an animal tooth brush holder. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.

3. Grab a picnic table and enjoy the bands. Bands jam for hours as you stroll among the artists’ tents. This year, you can listen to Kent’s The Speedbumps this Sunday or bluesy Austin “Walkin’ Cane” on July 7.

4. Go to the Friday night preview parties. Get a chance to buy and look at art before the crowds. You can spend an evening in the Cuyahoga Valley with beer, wine and food before hitting the regular show the next day. Tickets are $44-$54.

5. Talk to the artists. “You don’t have to buy,” Beahn says. “It’s entertainment. Talk to the artist while you’re there.” Ask them how they make their pieces and learn about their backgrounds. Many artists are creating art while customers meander, so take a minute to watch how they make those intricate wearable fibers or hazy landscape paintings.

The ArtFest is held the next two weekends. Saturdays 10-6, Sundays 10-5. $6-$8. Friday night preview parties 6-9 pm. bmbw.com

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