Tempe Festival of the Arts to include ASU students and alumni

The fall festival will showcase art and performances from a wide array of artists

As the weather cools down in Arizona, the beginning of December is an ideal time to explore outdoor arts festivals in the Valley, and ASU students will have the opportunity to do so at the Tempe Festival of the Arts on the first weekend in December.

Every spring and fall, the city of Tempe holds a festival on Mill Avenue to celebrate a wide array of art from local, national and international artists, including many ASU alumni and students showcasing their skills. A jury selected over 350 artists for the festival, as well as a separate group of local emerging artists.

The festival will also include an acoustic music lounge featuring local guitarists, street performers, face painting and henna art, as well as three live music stages, including the ASU Music Lounge, which will feature mostly students and alumni.

Wesley Skinner, a graduate student studying cello performance, will be performing works by Johann Sebastian Bach at the ASU Music Lounge at 4 p.m. on Dec. 3.

Skinner said the pieces he will be performing are baroque-era dance suites composed by Bach about 300 years ago. 

He is currently working with a group of local dancers who will perform ballroom and urban dancing as well as break-dancing at the festival, Skinner said.

Skinner said the Bach pieces are “a staple of the cello literature,” and he hopes that by combining them with a contemporary dance performance he can expose more people to the music.

“It’s kind of a mission of mine to bring classical music to people that wouldn’t normally be exposed to classical music,” he said.

Skinner was recently involved with an event at the Tempe Center for the Arts, in partnership with Huss Brewing Company, where he paired selections from Bach’s pieces with craft beers.

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Gabe Lehrer, a music therapy freshman, and Cole Mcleod, a music performance freshman, will also be performing at the ASU Music Lounge at 10 a.m. on Dec. 1. 

Lehrer and Mcleod, who met at ASU and started performing together this year, called their duo an “acoustic jam-band” and said they experiment with applying jazz-style principles to folk and popular music. 

“The way that we actually started playing together … we straight improvised for like two hours,” Lehrer said, “then we started working on actual songs and rehearsing them.”

Lehrer said the two of them will be performing covers of classic songs as well as original songs from the album "Cuban Chevy," which he released about a year and a half ago.

The festival will also feature food vendors and food trucks, an area for kids to play, two beer and wine gardens and a wine- and spirit-tasting event.

Mary-Beth Buesgen, program specialist for the ASU Ceramics Research Center and Brickyard facility, said this is the third year the center will be involved with the Tempe Festival of the Arts.

During the festival the CRC will host an activity area for kids, a community clay garden where visitors can make ornaments to take home and hang on a community tree, clay flowers to add to a community installation, and demonstrations by students and local artists in front of the center.

Buesgen said there will be ASU graduate and undergraduate students putting on a variety of demonstrations through the weekend to engage attendees. She also said the center will be open during the festival for people to visit.

“If no one has been here before … it’s an exciting space,” Buesgen said. “We have the best contemporary ceramics collection in the nation.”

The 49th annual Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts will be Dec. 1-3 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day on Mill Avenue and the surrounding streets and is free and open to the public.

Reach the reporter at abpotter@asu.edu and follow @abpotter4 on Twitter. 

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