The OneAmerica Broad Ripple Art Fair returns this weekend to celebrate 50 years after a two-year pandemic-related cancellation. WFYI’s Taylor Bennett spoke to Indianapolis Art Center Executive Director Mark Williams and local artist KP Singh about a new focus for the popular event, and why the arts are important to the community.
WFYI’s Taylor Bennett: Mark, how was the Broad Ripple Art Fair going to be different this year?
Indianapolis Art Center Executive Director Mark Williams: Well, this year will become more of a festival environment. It’s part of the celebration atmosphere that we’re a little more music forward. You know, we’ve partnered with indie Jazz Fest to curate a whole weekend of music to complement all the fine arts. The jury put a high focus on the quality of art being adjudicated into the art fair this year. So it’s a little less crafty and a much more refined pool of artists.
Bennett: KP, you have been part of the Broad Ripple Art Fair for a long time, the very beginning.
Artist KP Singh: I have been around for a while, and the first Broad Ripple Art Fair was on the deck behind the fire station in the Broad Ripple area, and it was on a deck and there would have been a very modest affair. So it has grown enormously over the past 50 years.
And over the years, you know, we have had the pleasure of sending our work all over the world. And so, in other words, people that think just a small little art fair, it has — over the years — earned the reputation of one of the finest art fairs in the Midwest. Certainly in the Hoosier heartland. So for all of you who are listening, please remember to say hello to KP Singh. Because many of you have, over the years, have supported my work. And in some cases, we have shared our work with the same family for three generations. And that’s really to tell something about that kind of love that people have for the Broad Ripple Art Fair.
Bennett: Talk to us about the importance of arts and why the community should support the arts community.
Singh: I think, Miss Taylor, that our sort of the heart and soul of our very being — whether it is designing a spoon, or whether it is designing a gown for a bride, whether it is designing a building, whether it’s decorating the walls of our house or a room. Art is the central essence of how we really like to view things.
And then somebody comes along and makes it really say well, how about this kind of wall? Or how about this kind of art? But how about this kind of painting on your wall? You have a particular background? You have a particular region of the world and now you live here. How about something that is familiar to you from the old country? So in other words, art is the connector — connector to our very being, connector to our soul.
Bennett: Mark, this is a fundraiser, right?
Williams: Correct. It is our largest fundraiser
Bennett: And where do the proceeds go?
Williams: It goes to support our operations. It goes to support the grounds and the exhibitions that we have — up to 20. It’s important to note that we’re free, open, and accessible to everyone, all the time. There’s no paywall. There’s no entry admission. We are a place for the people.
And so it supports our operations that also supports our outreach programming. So we not only tried to bring people to our campus, but we meet people where they’re at with art. So we spread out all across the country. We serve more than 1,000 youth through our outreach and community engagement programs every year.
Bennett: How many vendors will be there this year?
Williams: There’ll be 150 artists this year. One hundred fifty high-quality artists.
Bennett: So lots to see and lots to do. Thank you both so much.
Singh: Pleasure. Pleasure.
Williams: Thank you for having us.