Indianapolis Art Center preparing for 52nd Annual Broad Ripple Art Fair

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The 52nd Annual Broad Ripple Art Fair will take place May 18-19 at the Indianapolis Art Center. (Photo provided/Indianapolis Art Center)
The 52nd Annual Broad Ripple Art Fair will take place May 18-19 at the Indianapolis Art Center. (Photo provided/Indianapolis Art Center)

For more than 50 years, the annual Broad Ripple Art Fair has raised money for programming while exposing the community to diverse artists from across the country.

Featuring more than 150 local and national artists plus 15 teen and up-and-coming artists, local food vendors and live performances, the Broad Ripple Art Fair is the Indianapolis Art Center’s largest annual fundraiser. The proceeds from ticket sales go back into programming and keep the Indianapolis Art Center free year-round, said Shannon Bennett, vice president of events and exhibitions for the Indianapolis Arts Center.

“We like to support living, working artists. You know, all of our exhibitions come from contemporary artists that are out every day making a living, producing art,” Bennett said. “This is our way to kind of embrace that and bring in artists from all over the country who are doing exactly what we try to showcase every day in our galleries and in our studios and with our faculty teaching artists.”

The Broad Ripple Art Fair always takes place on the weekend after Mother’s Day, filling the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center and surrounding areas with artists, community vendors, live performances, art demonstrations and hands-on activities for kids.

This year, the fair promises the same staples as years past, including music curated by Indy Jazz Fest — with Bashiri Asad, Rob Dixon and the 317, Katherine Nagy and the Fishers School of Rock — and food trucks such as Black Leaf Vegan, Bazbeaux Pizza, Nicey Treat and a booth from the Jazz Kitchen.

READ MORE: This weekend in the arts: May 10-12

However, this year will also feature an expanded section for hands-on activities and horsehair raku pottery “make it, take it” art workshops.

“People can sign up for those ahead of time and while they’re at the fair, can be walking around, seeing artists and then pop into the ceramic studio and make an actual piece of art that they get to take home themselves that day, which is really fun,” Bennett said.

Chicago-based Ghanian fashion designer Jennifer Akese-Burney will showcase designs from her latest collection “Aura” at the 52nd annual Broad Ripple Art Fair. (Photo provided/Jennifer Akese-Burney)

Jennifer Akese-Burney, the owner of Akese Stylelines, is a Chicago-based fashion designer from Ghana. Although it is Akese-Burney’s first year at the Broad Ripple Art Fair, she said it means a lot to her as an artist to have markets and organizations like the Indianapolis Art Center who support handmade work and those who create it.

“Not only are you getting the chance to exhibit at the show itself, but also you find a community of people who understand you,” Akese-Burney said. “The fact that these shows attract people who appreciate the craft, appreciate the fact that you are making this, appreciate that you are front and center of creating this piece, is special to them because they know it’s coming directly from you.” 

Akese-Burney has been designing and selling clothes since she was in school in Ghana, but said her business, Akese Stylelines, got its official start in 2020. The mask shortage during the pandemic launched her into creating masks from fabric meant for her “Crown Queen” collection.

Now, however, Akese-Burney focuses on her true passion: designing and creating vibrant and bold African inspired women’s wear. Akese Stylelines offers several different collections at akesestylelines.com, including the Aura, Summer Vibes, Crown Queen, masks and neck pieces.

“I would say my designs, all my work is built on confidence,” Akese-Burney said. “I’m calling on the bold ladies to come out, and if you’re not bold but you love some print, I’ll be happy to walk you through some stuff to get to the bold stage. But yeah, my pieces are like, ‘I am here, you see me and you will compliment me.’”

Each year, the Broad Ripple Art Fair has a specific theme, and Bennett said this year’s theme was “Everybody’s Art Fair.” Bennett said they really wanted to bring the idea to life that art is for everyone — regardless of their demographic or skill set — and the Indianapolis Art Center aims to make art available to everyone who needs or wants to try it.

The Broad Ripple Art Fair takes place May 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Indianapolis Art Center, 820 E 67th St. Tickets range from $20 and can be purchased at indyartcenter.org/braf or at the gate day-of. Parking is available around Broad Ripple, Peddle Park and in the 62nd street Garage. For more information, visit indyartcenter.org.

Contact Arts & Culture Reporter Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.