Downtown Homewood’s Art & Garden Street Fair on June 8-9
By Rebecca Susmarski firstname.lastname@example.org June 6, 2012 3:28PM
Downtown Homewood's Art & Garden Street Fair, which will take place June 8-9, will feature more than 45 artisans and vendors.
HOMEWOOD’S ART & GARDEN STREET FAIR
◆ June 8 from noon-9 p.m., June 9 from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
◆ Martin Avenue and Ridge Road,
◆ Admission, free but there is a fee for specific art activities
◆ (708) 798-3000,
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:02AM
The fifth annual Downtown Homewood’s Art & Garden Street Fair will kick off June 8 and continue on June 9.
The event will feature 45 art vendors, art-making activities for all ages and live music performances.
Many local vendors, including Grady’s Grille and cupcakes by Karen Scobbie, will provide food.
Mary Jane Maharry, the 40-year-old owner of Homewood-based Brava Public Relations that is helping to promote the event, said 2012’s fair will feature more art vendors.
Artists from Mokena, Homewood, Chicago Heights, Flossmoor and other south suburbs will attend to represent their hometowns.
“You can’t get all those artists in one location at another festival,” Maharry said. “It’s definitely growing each year.”
The art fair will begin June 8 with a free performance by Grammy-nominated Justin Roberts and his Not Ready for Naptime Players.
Roberts is an indie rocker and family-music artist who has gained worldwide acclaim for his tunes that both children and adults can enjoy.
Recently dubbed by The New York Times as “the Judy Blume of kiddie rock,” Roberts’ music ranges from fun and catchy to heartfelt with a focus on real-life issues.
“I definitely think Roberts’ preperformance is something not to be missed,” Maharry said.
“His lyrics are smart and witty, and I think adults enjoy him just as much as kids.”
A performance by the classic rock band Xtra! Xtra! also will take place from 6-8 p.m. June 8, and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra Brass Quintet will have a concert from noon-2 p.m. June 9.
A samba band called Rio Bamba will play from 3-5 p.m. June 9, and rhythm and blues group Latin Satin Soul will play from 6-8 p.m. on the same day.
All musical performances are free.
“The world music really makes this year’s fair unique,” Maharry said.
Many artists and organizations will host the fair’s activities.
Local artist Terri Jabaay will showcase her mixed-media artwork and host a mixed-media class for adults.
She also will conduct a pastel workshop, a wine glass-painting activity and chalk instruction for children.
Homewood Church will host a free event for children to create with beads.
Visitors also can participate in a gardening and home-decorating demonstration by Bella Vita Home Accents or attend a floral-arrangement class by Homewood Florist.
There also will be an opportunity for children to make a birdbath or yarn art with Art 4 Soul, an art studio and boutique in Homewood.
“You’ll get a chance to do some serious art as opposed to some crafts,” Maharry said.
“You’ll really get activities here that you won’t get anywhere else.”
Attendees also can see a preview of arts initiative Your Keys to the City, which will be hosted by Pop-up Pianos to Play.
As part of the program, local artists will paint different pianos, which the village will unveil at the Fourth of July parade.
The pianos will be placed in Homewood’s downtown area, where people can play and admire them.
Members of the senior art program at Independent Days, a local adult and senior care center, have painted a piano that can be viewed at the fair.
Maharry said the fair is designed for Southlanders to have fun, hear some great music and support local art.
“I think Homewood has such a vibrant artist community, and this really showcases all the creative talent that is here.”
Justin Timberlake might be known for repeatedly reaching the No. 1 spot on the music charts.
But another musician with the same first name is reaching the No. 1 spot in the hearts of families around the world.
Justin Roberts, a 42-year-old family-music star, will perform at Downtown Homewood’s Art & Garden Street Fair.
He and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will kick off the festival with a free concert at noon June 8.
“I haven’t been to Homewood before,” Roberts said. “We’re really excited.”
The son of an attorney father and a mother who worked in development, Roberts was born in Des Moines, Iowa.
He developed a passion for music at an early age to the point where his preschool teacher told his parents that all Roberts did was “sit in the room and listen to records all day.”
During his time at Kenyon College in Ohio, Roberts played music with friends and formed an indie rock group called Pimentos for Gus.
After Roberts graduated with a degree in philosophy and religion, Pimentos for Gus traveled to Minneapolis, where they released CDs and held numerous concerts.
Although not a cohesive band now, Pimentos for Gus performed together for eight years and greatly influenced Roberts, he said.
“I learned a lot from playing in that group,” Roberts said. “We were kind of an indie-folk band, but we played everything from ballads to punk rock on acoustic guitars.”
Roberts began his family-songwriting career when he attended the University of Chicago to obtain a doctorate in religious studies.
He worked as a teacher in a Chicago preschool while working toward his degree. It was in the city that he began to write songs to entertain his toddler students and realized he could write songs from a child’s perspective.
“A lot of people like to emphasize all the beautiful things about childhood, and there certainly are those,” Roberts said.
“But a lot of times kids go through the same things adults go through. That’s kind of what I’m searching for in all the songs that I write.”
Roberts left doctorate school behind and released “Great Big Sun,” his first family-music CD in 1997.
He released eight more family-music albums including two that set stories of the Bible to music. Roberts estimates that his two most well-known albums, “Yellow Bus” and “Meltdown!,” sold about 35,000 copies each.
His most recent album, “Jungle Gym,” includes songs that reflect on childhood memories such as running under a gym-class parachute or signing a cast after breaking a limb. The CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2010.
“It was really exciting,” Roberts said. “We felt like we created something really special in the studio when we created ‘Jungle Gym,’ and it was nice to know that the Recording Academy recognized that too.”
Roberts is known among the family-music community and his fans for creating songs that entertain both children and adults.
He uses themes that touch people of all ages by drawing inspiration from experiences to which everyone can relate.
Roberts based the “Jungle Gym” song “Trick or Treat” on his memory of sorting candy with his brother on Halloween night.
He said “Moving,” one of his favorite songs, reflects on the experience of moving away and holding on to memories.
“For me it’s always about finding something meaningful in the subject matter that speaks to me as an adult or plays on a memory … in a way that sort of brings that memory back into focus,” Roberts said.
He also gleans inspiration from his enthusiastic fans — children and adults alike — who post song requests on his Facebook or Twitter pages.
Roberts admitted that he often writes lyrics that send the opposite message of what parents would like.
When a mother asked him to write a song that would convince her daughters to brush their hair, he wrote a song about a girl who never brushed her hair called “Henrietta’s Hair.”
When another mother requested a song that would teach her son to go to bed early, another fan correctly predicted that Roberts would rather write a song about a boy who stayed up too late.
“I’ll usually write about the opposite of what they want (since) what they want is to control their children,” Roberts said with a laugh.
He might get the opportunity to do the same with his new album.
Roberts is working on a lullaby album, tentatively titled “Lullaby,” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Until that is completed, Roberts said he is more than happy to continue performing in Homewood and other Chicago-area as well as write meaningful music for all ages.
“Sometimes you hear a song and it just speaks to you, like it’s written for you,” Roberts said.
“If somebody comes up to you and says, ‘This song speaks to me and my family,’ I think that’s awesome.”