First Thursdays returns to IU Bloomington with music, art, food and culture

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First Thursdays guests wait to make prints with help from IU printmaking instructors from the School of Art, Architecture + Design during the inaugural festival in 2016.

Music, art, theater and culture are returning to Indiana University Bloomington's Fine Arts Plaza  as First Thursdays begins its second fall series on Sept. 7.

The First Thursdays Festival is a celebration of contemporary arts and humanities on the IU Bloomington campus. It is a production of the IU Arts and Humanities Council and is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

The event will bring back a mix of live music, dance performances, art, crafts, games and giveaways. Students and community members can sample not only food but a variety of the culture that makes IU and Bloomington a creative community. 

Festivities are planned around Showalter Fountain and spread throughout the Fine Arts Plaza.

The free festival is open to all members of the public from 5 to 8 p.m.

"First Thursdays is like a big city arts festival plunked right into the middle of our campus," said Ed Comentale, associate vice provost for arts and humanities at IU Bloomington and director of the campus's Arts and Humanities Council. "It's the only place where you can get your monthly arts fix and sample all of IU's arts offerings in one place -- painting, sculpture, dance, music, games and crafts. It's a relaxed scene where you can explore your creative side or just take in the sights and sounds or enjoy a meal with friends." 

Food will be available for purchase from Residential Programs and Services and Traditions Catering as well at some of the other booths.

View a schedule of events

Throughout Thursday's festival, two stages will feature continuous entertainment:

The Main Stage performers

Acoustic Tent performers

  • 5 to 5:50 p.m. -- Grace Minnick, who accompanies her quirky, story-like lyrics on the piano, guitar and ukulele
  • 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. -- Indiana University's premier Jewish a capella group, Hooshir
  • 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. -- Heartland Trio, a group that combines folk music with improvisational jazz

Other highlights of this week's First Thursdays Festival:

Games and dancing

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A member of the Epiphany Dance Collective, a professional African dance and percussion ensemble, performs during the inaugural First Thursdays Festival on Sept. 1, 2016, at the IU Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Stop by the Mathers Museum of World Cultures tent for games and dancing: Washer pitching is a local game, the predecessor to what we call cornhole today. Tinikling is a Filipino folk dance.

"We are excited to share these with the community, because play and dance are two ways to connect with culture, both local and international," said Sarah Hatcher, head of programs and education at the Mathers Museum. "Connecting with cultures is what we hope students will do each and every time they have an opportunity to visit the Mathers Museum or join us at an off-site event." 

Learn to paint

Aspiring artists can learn to paint with confidence in the IU School of Art, Architecture + Design's painting area. Non-artists can pick up a brush and begin painting as faculty and students guide visitors and offer advice.

For $20, faculty and Master of Fine Arts painting candidates will create an on-the-spot painting, drawing or portrait to take home. The money goes to a student organization called the Painter's Guild, which raises money to bring artists to campus to give lectures and visit studios.

'Light/Matter' exhibit

The Grunwald Gallery's exhibit, "Light/Matter: The Intersection of Photography and Printmaking," will be open inside the Fine Arts Building. The histories of art and technology are intimately interwoven, and the new exhibit tells the story about the marriage of technology and art and how it has been central to the pursuit of knowledge and evolution of creative expression. 

'Talk With the Sculptures'

The IU Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art will give walking mini tours, "Talk With the Sculptures," at 5:15, 5:30, 5:45 and 6 p.m. The guided tours of permanent sculptures around the IU campus are limited to 15 minutes and provide an opportunity to learn more about the objects that people pass on campus every day.

"It will also empower attendees with some good campus trivia to tell their friends and family when they come to visit," said Abe Morris, manager of public relations and marketing for the Eskenazi Museum of Art. 

The museum, which closed in May for renovations, is set to reopen in fall 2019. The renovation will update the building's systems to 21st-century standards and provide the museum with expanded gallery space, new teaching facilities, new visitor amenities and other improvements. The museum is home to a collection of more than 45,000 objects from across the world. 

"We want IU students who haven't had a chance to visit the art museum to know that even though the museum building is currently closed, museum staff are dedicated to enriching their college experience by bringing great art activities to campus in the interim," Morris said.

The next two festival dates will be Oct. 5 and Nov. 2. First Thursdays will then take a short break and return in the spring.