Two days, 200 artists

By Tina Berisha

East Lansing Art Festival celebrates its 49th year

More than 200 artists from across North America — including 14 from the Lansing area — will display and sell their work at the 49th Annual East Lansing Art Festival. The two-day event showcases paintings, photographs, sculptures, fused glass, jewelry, musical performances and many other forms of art.

Anne O’Connor, a glass fuser from Okemos, is returning for her second appearance in the festival. Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, O’Connor pulls much of her inspiration from her childhood home.

“I really love watercolor, but I fell in love with the glass. I feel like I paint my scenes on the glass. I want you to be able to walk through the woods, I want you to be able to smell the flowers,” she said. “That would be like a view from our cabin,“ she added, pointing to a scene of birch trees and a river.

O’Connor owns the Art Unlimited studio in Okemos, where she teaches classes on glass fusion, pottery painting, and mosaicking. The busy mother of two high school-aged girls, O’Connor has nine shows scheduled this summer. But she says that getting able to be one of the local artists makes the East Lansing Art Festival one of her favorites.

“We like art here,” said O’Connor, looking around at her studio and talking about her daughter’s and niece’s award-winning works.

Also at the Festival will be Susan Luks of East Lansing, who makes wearable fiber collages and dyed silk. Luks is no stranger to the festival: Growing up in Okemos, she would visit the show with her mother. Even when she lived out of state she came back for the event, eventually bringing her three sons with her.

This will be Luks’ sixth year showcasing and selling her designs. “I didn’t start out dying fabrics, but I would work really hard to find a really great lining,” Luks said. “I really think that what’s next to you should be as good as what’s on the outside, so I started dying the linings.”

Luks describes her designs as a big science project. In her basement-turned-studio, Luks dyes, cuts, sews and embellishes her capes, vests, scarves and purses.

A self-proclaimed geek and computer programmer by day, Luks finds escape in her work.

“This is very unintentional; programming is very intentional,” she said. “Being a mom is very intentional: running schedules and being where you have to be. Then I come to the studio and start with a box of fabric, and I’m aiming for something. You have a pile of things that are tactile and are beautiful to me, so I think I can weave them all together into something else. I don’t think about it too much. Here’s a place where I don’t have to think and make sure everything comes together: It just will. That’s art, right?”

East Lansing Art Festival

Downtown East Lansing

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 19; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 20


(517) 319-6804

Music at East Lansing Art Festival

The festival stage is located in the north parking lot of East Lansing City Hall, 410 Abbot Road.

Saturday, May 19

11 a.m. — East Lansing High School Jazz Band

Noon — Wisaal (world music)

1:30 p.m. — An Dro (Celtic-influenced world beat)

3 p.m. — Musique Noir (world fusion)

4:45 p.m. — Mary Flower (country blues)

Sunday, May 20

11:30 a.m. — Elden Kelly (jazz)

1 p.m. — Lac La Belle (acoustic)

2:30 p.m. — Eight to the Bar (big-band swing)

4 p.m. — The Brothers Groove (funk), with painter Robert W. Shelburg