Art is in the Air



Viewing art can be a wonderfully thought provoking past-time for some, and anxiety inducing in others. While most people can agree that art is “important” in some way or another, many will skip the option to appreciate it in person. Art doesn’t need to be locked away in granite buildings to hold value or to enrich our lives: art should be all around us and accessible to all.

Walking into a busy market or festival type setting is a joyous occasion for those who already know makers or artists, create themselves, or were infused with the art-bug at some point earlier in their lives, but for others? It seems like a hodgepodge of creativity. That’s not totally wrong either—you’ll see artistic skills of many levels from beginner to master craftsmen depending on the theme or reputation of the festival.

Where To Find It

Luckily for you, the Midwest is home to quite a bit of creativity in addition to utility, so you’ll find both at these events! Michelle Fitzgerald, founder of MAKE South Bend, weighed in on a few artistan markets in the area. With founding the space at MAKE in River Park, Michelle has a front seat to a lot of the goings-on in the area, as MAKE is a hub of creativity that offers classes in many types of artistic crafts, provides equipment and space for makers and artists to sustain themselves and the artistic community.

“The Madison Road Artisan Market is a local market that’s been happening twice a year for around the past five years. I’ve been involved in the last three, they do a spring and fall show. The fall show is usually in the beginning of October, it’s one of the most creative, local festivals,” says Michelle.

“It’s all handmade, there’s a lot of women makers and crafters, which it doesn’t necessarily have to be, but there are a lot of them. It’s impressive and awesome,” she says of the Market.

Another option for the South Bend area is one of the area’s largest art events.

“Of course there is Art Beat, and that one is huge. Something like 300 local artists doing all sorts of things. There’s nothing else that can beat that for local shows in the summer,” Michelle says. “It’s going to be your largest crowd of vendors, and then there’s food and music and performances, so that one is a really cool show to start with,” Michelle says.

Art Beat takes over Michigan St. in downtown South Bend and fills it with everything from crafts and housewares to fine art, performances by dancers, musicians, and living art displays, as well as a sampling of foods in the area.

“The Leeper Park Art show is also in the summer, and that one usually has more fine art and stained glass. I’ve seen some blown glass an yard ornaments and things like that, it’s definitely more geared towards fine arts and décor,” Michelle describes.

What to Expect

The prices will be higher than at a box store, and that’s for good reason—this is direct from the artist and maker themselves. Something to keep in mind is that it is rude to belittle artist’s work with comments how one could make something themselves, because in this case the artist has already produced it for you with their time, materials, and skillset. Being inspired to create your own art is a great thing to come away with, however.

“You’ll recognize that a lot of things are priced more than they would be at a Hobby Lobby or Walmart because they’re made by an actual artist in town that’s trying to make some sort of living wage out of their work—and it’s going to be unique,” Michelle says of the prices to expect. “You’ll get one of a kind pieces and support the local economy.”

“A lot of people going into a show should just know that if you’re going into an art show to find one of a kind art, you’re going to pay more than you would elsewhere. Some people are going to have prints, and those can be pretty affordable, and there’s usually some way to get what you’re looking for.”

Enjoy the open air markets offered throughout the summer and fall, and stop to get to know the artists. Ask questions and learn about their work, or if you’d rather just observe, that is always welcome as well! You just might surprise yourself at what catches your attention.

Where to find information:

Leeper Park Art Fair: LeeperParkArtFair.Org
Art Beat: DowntownSouthBend.com/art-beat
Madison Road Artisan Market: MadisonRoadArtisanMarket.com

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