Laughter and the smell of paint filled the air on Saturday, September 16 during the Art Barn’s annual Art Blitz. Families from all over the Region headed out to the cozy Art Barn campus to enjoy a day packed full of countless interactive activities, fun entertainment, and, if they were lucky, spot a unicorn. People came curious to learn more about art and left feeling fully in touch with their creative side.
“It’s all about the experience of being here on our grounds and getting to make something and seeing new things,” said Amy Davis Navardauskas, executive director of the Art Barn.
This year’s Art Blitz was unique, but just as magical as ever. Instead of holding the festival the entire weekend like usual, the Art Barn decided to hold the festival for just one day so people could enjoy everything the festival had to offer without having to come back the next day. The event started a little earlier and ended a bit later, and was a huge hit among families.
It wouldn’t have been an Art Blitz if people didn’t have the opportunity to get their hands dirty. There were all kinds of interactive activities for people to put their creativity to the test. There was a Lego free-build table for kids, a station for people to paint their very own chairs, a printmaking station, a clay crafting area, and several murals for people to come and add to as they please. An Ink on Vellum station was a community favorite-- people laughed as they dropped ink droplets across their pages and blew the ink around in creative patterns with straws.
The event encouraged people to appreciate art in a new, hands-on way, rather than just through observation.
“A lot of festivals and art fairs are just passive entertainment--you’re looking and you’re watching and that’s it. People learn and experience things in different ways, so I think giving the community an opportunity to actually be able to work with paint or ink or whatever is important. It helps break down a barrier and makes art more accessible and enjoyable for everyone,” said Navardauskas.
On top of all the interactive stations, attendees also had the chance to enjoy all kinds of fun entertainment. Kids, and even a few adults, smiled brightly as they got their faces painted. Families went on leisurely hayrides. Art lovers perused several artisan stands, mulling over purchases, while music lovers swayed along to the beat of various acoustic performances. People watched eagerly as experienced artists demonstrated how to create beautiful oil pastel paintings and throw carefully crafted pots on a potting wheel. The release of several monarch butterflies was a crowd favorite.
“It’s also a great way for us to highlight some of the amazing partnerships that we have year-round. One of our partners, Opportunity Enterprises, has a booth here today and they’re showing off some of the artwork that their students have made this year. That helps raise awareness for their mission of helping individuals with disabilities,” said Navardauskas.
Between all of the interactive stations and fun demonstrations, the event was a great way for the Art Barn to show off all of its different offerings and give people a sneak peek at what they can expect from its upcoming art classes. Navardauskas hopes that the event inspires people to get out of their comfort zones and come try a class or two.
The Art Barn has several youth classes running this fall including ceramics, painting, all media, and a fun creativity lab that will encourage kids to find joy in all kinds of artistic expression. The Art Barn will also run countless classes for adults covering several forms of art including pastels, figure drawing, watercolor, wheel throwing, hand building, ceramics, and colored pencils. Not to mention, the Art Barn also plans to hold several workshops featuring fantastic guest artists. Whether a person wants to learn more about writing, journaling, glass making, or painting, the Art Barn has them covered.
“We really strive to provide a nurturing environment for people to learn and develop their skills and enjoy making art,” said Navardauskas.
Ultimately, the Art Barn’s 2023 Art Blitz was a win for spreading a love of art throughout the community. The day wouldn’t have been possible without all the love and support of countless organizations including 1st Source Bank, Southshore Convention and Visitors Authority, Family Express, Strack & Van Till, Lowes, Lakeshore Public Media, Urschel Philanthropy, The Town Planner, Third Coast Spice Cafe, and so many more.
“Something like this truly takes a village. We appreciate all of the different community partners and sponsors that have helped make this possible. We’re also appreciative of all our wonderful volunteers. The ROTC always sends a few cadets to help us out with parking, there are several Valparaiso University students here helping out at the different stations, and then of course all the artists and individuals who wanted to volunteer their time to be here and make this event amazing,” said Navardauskas.
To learn more about all of the Art Barn’s fun events and classes, visit artbarnschool.org.