Free art fest July 21-22 geared to family fun

HANDS-ON, ART WORKSHOPS offer creative fun for all ages at the Midsummer Festival of the Arts, July 21-22 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in downtown Sheboygan. - Photo courtesy John Michael Kohler Arts Center. HANDS-ON, ART WORKSHOPS offer creative fun for all ages at the Midsummer Festival of the Arts, July 21-22 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in downtown Sheboygan. - Photo courtesy John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The grounds of John Michael Kohler Arts Center will be brimming with works of art, live music, and art-making activities during the free Midsummer Festival of the Arts, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, July 21, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, July 22. Now in its 48th year, the festival is held on the Arts Center grounds at 608 New York Ave. in downtown Sheboygan, Wis.

One hundred, thirty-five artists from across the nation have been juried into this highly lauded festival. An astounding variety of works will be available in booths along the tree lined streets around the Arts Center. Choose from among paintings, photographs, jewelry, leather, sculpture, ceramics, art glass, wearable art, and even more categories. Whether in search of an original work of art for the home, office, or garden, or special gifts for family and friends, festivalgoers are sure to find many treasures.

Creating a special buzz at this year’s festival will be the expansion of the festival grounds onto Sheboygan’s City Green, across the street from the Arts Center. The City Green will be the site of six free concerts, community arts activities and a dining tent.

Festivalgoers will be treated to outstanding live performances by three bands each day. Saturday’s concerts begin at 10 a.m. with Josh Harty Band, Well-Known Strangers takes the stage at noon, and Mark Croft Band begins its show at 3 p.m. On Sunday, the music begins with This Big Life at 10:30 a.m., followed by Big Little Lions at noon, and King Solomon at 2 p.m.

Art-making activities for all ages can be found in the Workshop Tent and at the Community Arts Tent. For a nominal fee, you can try your hand at the potter’s wheel, make a sculpture of an alien creature, or create a silken planetary landscape in the Workshop Tent. At the Community Arts tent, there will be free net making with artist Maria Molteni. Inside the Arts Center, in The ARTery studio space, free activities include making toy balls and zines.

The Arts Center’s galleries will be open and admission is free, so take time to view the fascinating works of art in the Unseen Forces exhibition series. These four exhibitions explore invisible forces at play in daily life and in the creative process. Works by Wisconsin artists Mary Nohl (1914–2001) and eight Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship recipients are featured in the exhibition titled Mary Nohl and the Walrus Club. Another exhibition, Apt. 4, immerses visitors in the 1940s-era residence of a fictional immigrant artist.

While inside the Arts Center, get in on the excitement of a bidding contest at the silent auction of works of art donated by the festival artists to benefit Arts Center programming.

A visit to the food trucks or the Arts Center’s own charming ART cafe will recharge festivalgoers’ energy reserves. Choose from a variety of Sheboygan favorites including cheese curds, bratwurst, ice cream, and much more.

Admission to the festival, including the concerts and exhibitions, is free.

Make plans now to meet friends and family for a marvelous midsummer outing. Visit for more information.

Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience that ranges from artists and academics to families and youth of all ages.

Central to its mission is promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives, and publications.

The Arts Center’s collections focus primarily on works by vernacular-environment builders, self-taught and folk artists, and works created in the Arts/ Industry residency program.

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