Grand Avenue has gained quite a reputation over the years: home to the notorious dive Bikini Lounge, warehouses converted to art spaces, always-stuffy whiskey-fueled rock shows and even a few triangular-shaped storefronts that cut diagonally northwest, mimicking the avenue itself. So, it’s only fitting that a festival has popped up in its honor. Enter the Grand Avenue Festival, a celebration of all things Grand.
Set for Saturday, September 26, this all-day affair will give attendees the complete Grand Avenue experience: lots of free live music, art exhibits, historic building tours and more.
At the heart of Grand’s revival is its art spaces, and fittingly, they’ll all be open for passersby. Fifteen artist studios in all will be open to the public from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.: Jordre Studio (1007 W. Grand Ave.), The Lodge Art Studio (1231 W. Grand Ave.), Lucky Rabbit Studio (1020 W. Grand Ave.), Studio of Jen Urso & Christy Puetz (1341 W. Woodland Ave.), Studio of Lee Berger (PHiX) (1113 W. Grand Ave.), the ambient studio (1023 W. Grand Ave.), Deus Ex Machina Gallery (1023 W. Grand Ave.), Phoenix Fall Space (1023 W. Grand Ave.), Studio 8 (1301 W. Grand Ave.), Moderncat Studio (1301 W. Grand Ave.), Barry Sparkman Studio (1301 W. Grand Ave.), Brad Konick Sculpture Studio (701 N. 15th Ave.), R. Booker Studio (701 N. 15th Ave.), Chris Caufield Studio and Trillion Clarke Studio (701 N. 15th Ave.).
Adaptive reuse is a key element to the revitalization of Grand, and the Grand Avenue Festival plans to celebrate that fact with adaptive reuse tours throughout the morning. The tours begin at the Tilt Gallery (919 W. Fillmore St.) and visit Jordre Studios, Paisley Town (1028 W. Grand Ave.), the Motley Design Building (1114 W. Grand Ave.), Arnold’s Auto Body Shop (1209 W. Grand Ave.) and the old Bragg’s Pie Factory building (1301 W. Grand Ave.), which has recently started housing several art spaces and Sapna Café. The tour costs $10 (the only paying event at the festival!) and is scheduled for 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Tickets are available at the Tilt Gallery.
Live music will start at 4 p.m. and carry on until at least midnight, with an impressive lineup of great local acts taking various spots along Grand: the PHiX, Sweets & Beats (1504 W. Grand Ave.), Rockin’ A (1209 W. Grand Ave.) and the Loft. Check for a full schedule of tunes the day of the festival.
To celebrate Grand’s budding boutique hub status, three fashion shows will take place: A recycled wearables show at 5 p.m. at Bragg’s Pie Factory, a local boutiques show at 7 p.m. at Bragg’s Pie Factory and a “BoHo Haute Hippie Movement” (guess we’ll have to attend to figure out what that is exactly) show at 8:30 p.m. at Soul Invictus (1022 W. Grand Ave.).
On top of all of this, expect demonstrations, quirky gifts for sale, tons of free acoustic tunes and even free snow cones! For fans of Grand and newcomers alike, this is a great opportunity to experience the other art row Downtown.
Parking is available along Grand’s side streets, or you could huff it from the light rail station at Van Buren and Central/1st Ave and head west to Grand.