Art Festival Returns To East Lansing

May 15, 2019

The East Lansing Art Festival returns to the streets of East Lansing this weekend. Julie Levy-Weston, the festival’s interim director, speaks with WKAR’s Scott Pohl about this year’s event.

SCOTT POHL: I wanted to begin with a pretty typical question. What's the same this year, and what's new this year at the East Lansing Art Festival?

JULIE LEVY-WESTON: Lots of wonderful artists and a few more than last year, and now that we've worked on the new site for a year, we knew how many more we could put in. There will be good food vendors, a great children's area, and two stages of music. There's a mural being painted on the division street parking ramp, so we can watch art happening in front of us. And there will be a short term, just for the festival, interactive architectural installation at Charles and Albert (Streets).

POHL: Last year, construction forced some changes. Tell me about the impact of construction in downtown East Lansing on the festival this year.

LEVY-WESTON: Well, we're in the same place as the festival was last year, So the western edge of the festival is M.A.C, and then you turn east on to Albert and go to Bailey. That's that the blocks that the festival covers this year.

POHL: You work at the MSU Museum, you've been involved with lots of festivals including the East Lansing art festival over the years. In this case, though, you were thrust into the role of interim director just a couple of weeks ago after the city of East Lansing dismissed Michelle Carlson. I'm compelled to ask what you're able to say about this situation.

LEVY-WESTON: I really don't know much about what happened. I know I got a phone call And they said would you consider (doing it)? I considered and said yeah, yeah, I can do this. Then there was some hoops to jump through for me to get a leave of absence for a month from MSU. I'm on leave from (the museum) May 1 to May 31.

POHL: ELi, the East Lansing info online news site, has indicated that the festival was in need of volunteers. Is that still the case? What can people do to help?

LEVY-WESTON: We do still need volunteers. The last time I looked, we're still low on people to help with the load-in of artists on Friday afternoon. That's helping direct traffic and get people moving, and then again on Sunday, when we take it all down. I think we're pretty good on that. The popular jobs are info booths. I think those are in pretty good shape, but we can always use help.

POHL: We should clarify festival hours Saturday and Sunday.

LEVY-WESTON: The festival opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday and closes at 6, and opens at 10 a.m. Sunday and closes at 5.

POHL: There also was a concern about the condition of the pavement on a stretch of M.A.C Avenue. Has that been addressed?

LEVY-WESTON: Yeah. The first day I walked over I was like, oh my gosh, this is horrible, but they went in last week and did a good job patching the road. It's better. I won't say it's perfect, but it's much safer than it was.

POHL: Any particular highlights on the music schedule that you'd like to make sure folks are aware of?

LEVY-WESTON: Well, there's lots of good stuff. We're starting off with the East Lansing High School Jazz Band on Saturday. May Erlewine will be here with The Motivations. We also have the Stringtown Trio, and then Joshua Davis and Rachel Davis (on Sunday).