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Artosphere fills the month of May with music, art, films, puppets and more

Outdoor music, a “Humongous Fungus,” puppet shows, films, yoga and pottery are among the free events planned all over Northwest Arkansas as part of the annual Walton Arts Center’s Artosphere Festival this May.

“Artosphere Festival, when it was founded, was about accessibility and about bringing arts to the community. So we’ve always had some free and low-cost events during Artosphere,” says Jennifer Ross, vice president of programming for the Walton Arts Center .

The music kicks off with a free concert by Trout Fishing in America on May 9 at the Botanical Gardens in Fayetteville.

“We’re really excited. We love this band. We love bringing them out in the community,” Ross enthuses. She says that they are asking people to register for that event in case of rain.

There is also Tunes on the Trails, which can be accessed via a smartphone. Locations will be announced May 1.

“This is an idea to use our Artosphere Festival Orchestra recordings and pair them with selected trails in Northwest Arkansas,” explains Sara Broome Jones, learning programs and festivals specialist. “You go to the trailhead, you see the sign and scan it, and it brings you a recording for you to listen to on your hike. And it’s just a really beautiful experience.”

Jones adds that she has tested Tunes on the Trails for herself.

“You’re used to hearing classical music in a fancy hall,” she says. “This gives you a different experience to live the music in a natural environment.”

Ross added that there are plenty more opportunities to hear classical music and roots music during this year’s festival.

The Herbie Hancock Institute National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Sextet featuring Don Braden, Lisa Henry and the Northwest Arkansas Jazz All-Stars will have a free concert at 7 pm May 18 in Starr Theater at Walton Arts Center. A Garden Party at Crystal Bridges from noon to 4 pm May 18 will feature live music, too.

The festival has also partnered up with First Thursday and First Friday events May 4-5. Local drummer Papa Rap, C4 Clarinet Quartet and reggae band Irie Lions perform in Fayetteville on Thursday. Papa Rap performs again in Bentonville the next day with Coloring Twelve. That performance is also presented by The Music Education Initiative.

Artosphere partnered with the Railyard Live series in Rogers for the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta with Proyetco Tumbado and DJ Susie Q on May 5, and then it’s a jazzy and R&B Saturday on May 6 with Rodney Block Collective and Pura Coco on the Butterfield Stage downtown.

Artosphere Festival Orchestra’s AFO: Off the Grid — where members of the orchestra perform in bars, coffee shops and restaurants — happens on May 18 in downtown Fayetteville. Then there’s Trail Mix, Artosphere’s signature event that includes live art, music and activities for families and kids on May 12.

“Trail Mix this year is on the Lower Ramble in Fayetteville. It’s just south of the library, and it kind of winds down [to] a beautiful new spot in Fayetteville, so we wanted to showcase the work they’ve done there,” Broome Jones says.

In addition to Trail Mix, there’s a series of puppet shows for kids at three of the libraries in Northwest Arkansas. “Little Red Hen’s Garden,” performed by StoneLion Puppet Theatre, will be at the Fayetteville Public Library at 10:30 am May 9, 4 pm May 10 at Springdale Public Library and at 2 and 5 pm May 11 at the Bentonville Public Library. Registration is required for Bentonville.

There’s also a “Humongous Fungus” outside of Nadine Baum Studios at 505 W. Spring St. in Fayetteville for the whole family to enjoy.

“Artist Gina Gallina has created a giant mushroom with flowers surrounding it. And when I say giant, I mean this is a mushroom you can walk through, bike through, push a stroller through,” Broome Jones says. “We have so much fun with the public art pieces.”

Also at Nadine Baum is the Arkansas Pottery Festival, featuring more than 50 potters from around the state that will include an exhibition, a pottery sale, demonstrations and lectures as well as live music by Los Veleros starting at 6:30 pm May 6.

The festival will also include movies. A free outdoor screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” is set for 8:30 pm May 10 at Prairie Street Live.

“I’m really excited about the film screening that we have for a brand new documentary called, ‘The Artist and The Astronaut,” Ross added. “That film is about artist Pat Musick, and her husband, astronaut Jerry Carr. And we’re thrilled to be able to screen that here in Northwest Arkansas. Pat Musick is very closely related to Walton Arts Center, we’ve had a couple of her pieces hanging in the Arts Center.Crystal Bridges also has some of her work.

“Her husband Jerry Carr was the commander of Skylab. … It’s a really exciting piece about their life together and about how they met and how art and science really work together. In the end, I thought it was a beautiful piece I can don’t wait to share with the community.It’s free, [but] we do ask that people register for it.”

She added that some of Carr and Musick’s family would be here for the screening and that there would be a talk with the filmmakers. Finally, free yoga kicks off at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks at 9:30 am May 6, and Yoga in the Atrium at Walton Arts Center is at 2 pm on May 21. Registration is required.

There’s also a Fashion Machine at Yvonne Richardson Center in Fayetteville on May 13 where five textile artists will work with 28 local children to remake outfits from volunteers in the audience. This event is free, and registration is required on the Walton Arts Center’s website.

Several events have tickets in the $10-$20 range including the Chapel Series May 17-18 featuring roots duo Smokey & the Mirror ($15), An Evening of Brahms and Beethoven on May 15 ($10) and Respighi’s Roman Trilogy on May 20 ($15) and up) by Artosphere Festival Orchestra. Then there’s Jazz on the Mountain with Dillion Brouse Quartet at 7 pm May 19 on Mount Sequoyah ($12).

Also, back this year is Indie Films Artosphere curated by Fayetteville Film Fest.

“They’ve always got great indie films, so they pull those together for us. And we screen those over one evening,” Ross added. That showcase is 8 pm May 12. Tickets are $10.

There are even more events planned for the Artosphere Arkansas’ Arts and Nature Festival. To keep up with it all, lots of information is posted on the Walton Arts Center’s website and at There’s also an Artosphere app available on Google Play or the Apple Store for free.

photo Artist Gina Gallina has crocheted a “Humongous Fungus,” which will be on display outside of Nadine Baum Studios at 505 W. Spring St. in Fayetteville throughout this years Artosphere Festival. (Courtesy Photo)
photo On The Cover: For kids of all ages, “Little Red Hens Garden,” performed by StoneLion Puppet Theatre, will be at the Fayetteville Public Library at 10:30 am May 9, 4 pm May 10 at Springdale Public Library and at 2 and 5 pm May 11 at the Bentonville Public Library. (Courtesy Photo)
photo Papa Rap Lopez performs along the trail during Trail Mix, part of the 2019 Artosphere Festival. He performed again this year during a partner event for First Friday featuring with Coloring Twelve, presented by The Music Education Initiative, sponsored by Artosphere, from 5-9 pm May 5 in downtown Bentonville. This is one of many free events offered during the monthlong festival. (NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/Andy Shupe)
photo Trout Fishing in America will perform a free concert at 6:30 pm May 9 at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville as part of the annual Artosphere festival happening all over Northwest Arkansas this May. This is a free but ticketed event. See for more details. (Courtesy Photo)