The third annual edition of The Unexpected returns to Fort Smith on July 23. The weeklong event – a collaboration with creative house Justkids – will feature all new artists for 2017.
Unlike the 2016 event, which expanded to one contribution in Fayetteville, Ark., the entire program footprint will remain in Fort Smith as in year one, according to The Unexpected Event Director Claire Kolberg.
Since launching in September 2015, the art and murals festival has put downtown Fort Smith on the global map, welcoming thousands of local and tourist visitors and racking up more than 5 million views on social media channels.
The artist lineup for 2017 includes New York artist Doze Green, whose “The Divine Sparks Project” revisits the former 1910’s New Theater, an Art Nouveau playhouse in the heart of downtown which had remained abandoned and closed to the public for close to 30 years.
Adjacent to the theater, the Amsterdam-based audiovisual design collective Circus Family will target a former sign-making studio with “an immersive light experience in which the audience directs the intensity, audio and colors by simply approaching and or moving around the shapes,” Kolberg stated in a Thursday (July 13) press release.
West on Garrison Avenue, Philadelphia-based artist Crystal Wagner will install a sculptural piece on the landmark Reynolds Davis Facade, while Felipe Pantone, an Argentinian artist, will step out of the wall for a massive sculptural piece to double as a “pop-up” skate park on the Fort Smith National Historic Site parking lot.
Continuing its international connections, The Unexpected will also welcome London-based artist Lakwena, who specializes in vibrant geometric colors and typography for an installation inside the Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center.
Her work “will expand from the bi-dimensional limits of the walls,” creating a 360-degree art experience to cover the entire courtyard. The artist, who recently opened her solo exhibition “The Future’s Gold” in London, aims “to meaningfully engage with the young convicts through her art, bringing some color, wonder and sparks from the outside world into theirs,” the release stated.
Other artists to whom invitations have been extended include Mexican muralist Saner along with Ukrainian phenomena AEC from the duo Interesni Kazki. They join the lineup this year to collaborate in the creation of a large scale mural located between 8th and Garrison.
Also in 2017, the Unexpected is partnering with the Peacemaker Arts & Music Festival. The 3rd Annual Peacemaker Music & Arts Festival will hit downtown Fort Smith on July 28 and 29 with headlining acts Gov’t Mule and Jamey Johnson leading a lineup of eight bands at Riverfront Park. he Unexpected will be held in the “same downtown area footprint” as Peacemaker and will be “easily walkable” between the two events, Kolberg has said.