If your job is to stage the Penrod Arts Fair — one of the largest one-day fairs in the nation — it just might help if your day job is a construction contractor. This is the occupation of Festival Chair John Andrews. However, the main reason he gives for his involvement isn't the logistical challenge but the fact that Penrod proceeds go to support Indy art organizations.
"Our mission is to further the arts and culture of the city through big grants and through small ones we're able to do that, and we also have a pretty fun event," he says.
Andrews finds it hard to name an event or artist that he's looking forward to the most at Penrod, to take place at the IMA grounds on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"I think it's the fact that you have so many different opportunities to see different mediums of art, everything from our dance stage to musical acts ranging from jazz to blues and rock..." he says. "And then you've got so many different artists showing their work [more than 300 from 18 states]. I think the cool thing is that you can see so much. Not to mention that we try to have really great food and drink offerings."
When pressed, he points to artists who'll be demonstrating woodturning and Indy's own K.P. Singh, who first started displaying his architectural drawings 42 years ago at the fair and will be there this year.
But the fact that the Penrod Fair, in its 49th year, takes place on the beautiful IMA grounds should be as much a draw as any particular Penrod offering.
The August, 2014 installation of the Lichtenstein "Five Brushstrokes" sculpture onto the IMA mall lawn forced some logistical challenges to fair organizers. But the mall will be open to pedestrians.
"It's a nice place just to sit, if people want to sit in the grass and eat some food in the middle of a pretty crowded environment," says Andrews.
The main stage will butt up against Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture, which was ranked #2 out of 10 in a July 2015 USA Today poll asking readers to name best places to propose (so there may be some proposals amidst the hoopla).
Andrews estimates that, if weather is good — and Penrod lives up to its trademark moniker "Indiana's Nicest Day"—one can expect 25,000 attendees.
"The legend is that they picked this weekend for the fair because statistically we're supposed to have the best weather of the year," he says.
Sept. 12, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Indianapolis Art Museum, $15 presale, $20 door, children ten and under free, penrod.org