‘The Unexpected’ returns to Fort Smith on Oct. 22, lineup and events to be determined

by Aric Mitchell (amitchell@talkbusiness.net) 575 views 

The Unexpected art mural project will be held during the last third of the year, according to 64.6 Downtown. The group — a nonprofit funded and created by Propak owner Steve Clark — has organized the festival since 2015.

For the first two years, The Unexpected took place in the early part of September before making the jump last year to the final week of July and coinciding with the Peacemaker Music Festival.

For 2018, Peacemaker stayed put, but The Unexpected will move back to the fall — Oct. 22-28, to be exact. While 64.6 Downtown isn’t ready to announce specific events or artist lineups, the 2017 Henry Award winner for Community Tourism Development plans to continue its mission “to bring high-quality urban and contemporary art to Arkansas alongside their curatorial partner, the international creative house, Justkids.”

Justkids is a creative house that conceives and produces art projects internationally. The “Still I Rise” art mural from internationally-renowned artist Lakwena on the interior walls of the Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center was among last year’s featured attractions, drawing national attention and a visit from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Previous artist participants have included Alexis Diaz, Okuda San Miguel, Guido Van Helten, Jaz, Pastel, Faith 47, Bordalo II, Cyrcle and two-time Unexpected artists D*Face and Maser.

64.6 Downtown spokeswoman Claire Kolberg said the estimated global reach of last year’s event was 10 million people. There has yet to be an economic impact study performed on the event but considering the first two years’ estimated reach were at around 5 million, the last year has witnessed exponential growth.

Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau, told Talk Business & Politics it’s difficult to get a measure on the economic impact of an event like The Unexpected because of the lasting effects of the artwork and the fact visitors don’t always announce their intentions.

“But I know it’s having a massive impact on the image of our city,” Legris said, citing a piece by AFAR Magazine in which The Unexpected was featured alongside events in the Ukraine and Melbourne, Australia, as some of the most unlikely places to view public artwork.

Kolberg said visitors to 2018’s The Unexpected “can expect to see augmented activities surrounding the event expanding on art, culture, music, and thought.”

“Events will take place in the downtown footprint, creating an easily walkable experience, and will include hands-on activities for both adults and children,” Kolberg said. More details on this year’s participating artists and surrounding events will be announced in September through the website, Instagram, and Facebook.

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