A family-friendly summer outing in the Woodland Heights Neighborhood area, the white tent juried art show features fourteen high-caliber regional artists, live music, two performances by Springfield Little Theatre and food vendors. Art enthusiasts will find abstract paintings by award-winning Bob Aubuchon; pottery by Kendle Durden and show newcomer Megan Jensen, plus more fine art painters, printmakers, fiber artists, jewelers and woodturners from around the Ozarks.
Marian Chamberlain, one of the show’s coordinators and the artist liaison, says Moon City is excited to showcase the amazing artists who apply to participate in Summer Solstice, now in its fifth year.
Steve Miller, one participating artist and Moon City Creative District board director, says Summer Solstice not only provides a fun summer diversion, but it’s also a way for the community to learn more about Moon City artists, and to “take another look at the North side,” he says.
What is the Moon City Creative District?
The Moon City Creative District is both a place and a concept centered around creativity. As a place, Moon City is a 10-square-block area with residential, commercial and industrial real estate in the historic Woodland Heights Neighborhood area, just north of Commercial Street and the Jefferson Footbridge. It’s defined visually by painted utility poles which have been repainted and updated periodically by Moon City artists. Since 2013, a live-work rezoning overlay allows artists in Moon City to both live and work from their home studios with a limited retail presence.
Currently, six to seven artists live in the zoned district, its name a nod to an 1800s reference to the once separate town of North Springfield. Other homes are owned by families and residents who may simply enjoy the creative vibe.
In fact, many artists who participate with Moon City don’t live in the zoned district, Miller says. Some live in Woodland Heights. Others, including Chamberlain, live outside the neighborhood altogether. Miller says he and organizers want local artists to know that no matter where they live, they can participate with Moon City. In addition to the summer show, the organization hosts a studio and art tour every December.
Amanda Stadler, who helps with Summer Solstice and lives in the Moon City Creative District, says she’s a creative person who loves the arts but is not an artist. In 2015, she and her husband bought their house in Moon City because they like the neighborhood’s historic connections and the artistic vibe, she says.
“It’s a little funky, right? Like, the houses don’t all look the same; they’re not cookie-cutter houses in how they’re built,” Stadler says. “You can tell just driving by people’s houses with how they’ve decorated or have their yard set up. It just has character. With the houses and with the pole-painting that Moon City Creative District does, you know you’re in that neighborhood.”
Moon City isn’t a public place to go, like Historic Commercial Street. “We would like it to be an everyday destination, but we just don’t have the density yet as far as artists’ presence,” Miller says.
As the concept grows and more artists open studios to the public, that could change with more event opportunities. When you take into consideration all that’s happening on the north side, a renaissance is beginning to happen, Miller says. Moon City is about building community and building on the artistic synergy in the neighborhood and nearby historic Commercial Street, Miller says. He hopes that will entice more people to venture north.
Summer Art Celebration
Chamberlain belongs to several arts organizations and helps with fundraisers for the Springfield Art Museum. A pastel painter, printmaker and wood-turner who has participated in many art shows, she particularly enjoys helping artists with setting up compelling booths and marketing. She says she got involved with Moon City for the sake of the concept, still in its early stages compared to similar efforts in other cities. Since the first Summer Solstice, she has helped organize the fair and acts as the artist liaison. “It was something that I think is just absolutely wonderful,” she says. “I’m all for getting other people’s art out there and getting the community involved. And it just seemed like the perfect mix.”
The Summer Solstice is not exclusive to Moon City artists, organizers stress: Artists from around the region can apply to participate and they hope to spread the word about that to more artists in the coming years. What Chamberlain likes about Moon City and the summer art fair, is that “it does not cater to a specific type of art or a specific type of artist. There is so much opportunity because the more we branch out, the more different people that we have.”
Stadler says the annual Summer Solstice is a great way to meet different people, showcase the neighborhood area and share it with the community. That it’s held in one of Springfield’s oldest city parks, established in 1869, is a bonus. “It’s a little bit of a cozier vibe,” she says.
Chamberlain thinks the art fair also helps more people learn about Moon City as a district, and a place to consider living, she says: “We want it to be a live-work arts district, but of course, people don’t just all of a sudden say ‘Oh, I’m going to move, sell and buy a house. You really have to nurture those relationships to get people interested.”
Summer Solstice Art Fair
Enjoy Saturday in the park with art and music
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 18
Where: Lafayette Park, 202 East Atlantic St.
What: Art fair featuring original fine art booths, live music, Springfield Little Theatre performances and food vendors
Artists: Lee Brooks, Barb Dedrickson, M. Scott Phifer, Brenda Woods, Bob Aubuchon, Kendle Durden, Marian Chamberlain, Mike Ilkiw, John Taliaferro, Megan Jensen, Zach Ledbetter, Deby Gilley, Bernadette Powell, Steve Miller
Performances: Harley’s Muse, Mike Mac & the Sidemen, Tony & Robin Logue, Springtown 66, Lija Fonner, Springfield Little Theatre
Summer Solstice Art Fair is sponsored by Springfield-Greene County Park Board and Habitat for Humanity Springfield, and supported in part by a Ghost Light Program award from the Missouri Arts Council, in partnership with the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies.