Column: All Hands Art Festival scheduled for this weekend in Macon

Special to The Telegraph

A new and unique arts festival comes to Macon this weekend, a festival bringing together a different combination of artists and artisans and their work.

The All Hands Art Festival is a three-day dimensional art event presented by The 567 Center for Renewal, Triangle Arts Macon and Visit Macon showcasing work done in metal, glass, clay and wood with exhibits to see, works to buy and creator demonstrations.

There’s also food and music making for a well-rounded, fun occasion for all. Today from 6-8 p.m. there’s a $30 VIP preview, reception and artist meet and greet with food, drink and music. Saturday’s hours are noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday’s are noon to 5 p.m. with a $5 entry each day. Kids 10 and under are admitted free.

Each day there are exhibitions, demonstrations, vendors, live music and food trucks plus the opportunity to just hang around Triangle and get to know local artists and those coming from other nearby states.

The schedule, advanced ticketing and other information are at www.the567center.org/allhands. Advanced tickets are recommended for tonight but if space is available, you can get a VIP pass at the door. A VIP pass also gets you in Saturday and Sunday without further charge.

And there’s another unique aspect to the festival. If you like or want to learn more about glassblowing, pottery or welding, of course, it’s a great place to be. But if you’re a fan of reality TV-style competitions there’s that too on Sunday.

“We’re going to have what we’re calling Art Olympics Sunday where artists compete in fast-paced technical competitions in glassblowing, pottery and welding,” said Melissa Macker, executive director at The 567. “It’s a judged competition and should be a lot of fun. Artists will be given tasks – like creating a particular piece on a potter’s wheel blindfolded – and other challenges.

“Our overall idea is to create a one-of-a-kind festival showing that art can be different than what we usually think. There are remarkable wood-burning pieces here by Heidi Clinite. You’ll be delighted by what you see people doing with welding and glassblowing and other forms.”

Clinite won’t be in the Arts Olympics but is making label plates for the trophies to be given, trophies created by the folks at Startup Studios, sponsors and participants in the festival. Of course, she’s using her wood-burning skills and yes, you should think wood-burning like the set you might have gotten as a kid - but then forget it. Clinite is at a whole different level.

“I do paint on some of the pieces, but I just came to the place where I felt I wanted to do something different, do this new thing with wood burning and I didn’t even know if it was a real thing or not,” she said. “I tried and stuck to it and it got good. I love the process of making art. To me, that’s what’s most enjoyable about art: working through all the challenges and frustrations but eventually getting what you’re after.”

Clinite has also written a children’s book illustrated in her own fashion on wood. She said it stands about two-and-a-half feet tall. She is one of the artists doing a demonstration Saturday afternoon.

The festival’s focus on particular materials seems fitting for the industrial surroundings at Triangle Arts, the festival event site located at 206 Lower Elm St. Known as an artist’s haven and attraction for street art, the expansive property is also home to ValKill furniture where Triangle’s Ric Geyer has set up shop to express his own creative woodworking skills. ValKill is part of the show and demonstrations.

“I have quite a few commissioned woodworking furniture pieces going and actually some of my sculpture that nobody’s seen,” Geyer said. “This is the perfect place for this festival as Triangle continues to evolve. With the art community growing in town and all the great creators we have out here, there’s always something new to do and see.”

OK, the elephant in the room – or rather the hurricane on the horizon: what about the weather? Laughing, Geyer said he suggested changing the name from All Hands to Hurricane, but seriously, he and Macker are optimistic about a great three days. Macker said the show will go on and that Friday’s VIP reception is indoors anyway. Much of Saturday’s and Sunday’s is also inside or can be moved in if need be. That helps plus the fact the weather might not be so bad after all.

Macker said the festival represents the continuing growth and widening scope of the arts in Macon.

“Our art scene has grown significantly over the past several years adding new art studios and organizations like Triangle Arts,” she said. “And there’s more public art such as Macon Sculpture Walk. As well as offering another side of art and artists to those of us local to Macon, we want this festival will help people outside of Macon see us as a true art destination for years to come. It’s sure to be a ton of fun.”

Should you need to contact The 567 about the availability of tickets at the door as the time approaches for the VIP reception, Macker said call (478) 238-6051 or emal melissa@the567.org for information.

And don’t miss this: while All Hands is aiming at becoming a recognized annual event, a well-known east-of-MLK-Jr-Blvd. happening has its own VIP/preview get-together tonight and sale set for Saturday and Sunday: Historic Macon Foundation’s Fall Flea Market.

Its $35 Preview Party, including catering and beer and wine, is 6 p.m. today but if you want early shopping access at 5 p.m., go for the $100 VIP ticket. Warning – tickets may or may not be available as time closes in. Otherwise, the sale is Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. Entry to the 357 Oglethorpe St. warehouse is free. Historic Macon members get 15 percent off purchases and canned goods are being collected for the Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon. Keep up with the latest at www.facebook.com/historicmacon.

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.