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ScrapFest 11 marks the repurposed-material art festival surpassing the 10-year hump. On the same night as Arts Night Out in Old Town, Turner Street will be lined with metal sculptures submitted by artists for the festival’s annual competition — the cherry on top to the niche collections stuffed inside the surrounding storefronts. In years past, the free, open-air exhibit invited people to bid on their favorite pieces, but due to feedback from artists, the festival has steered in a new direction.
After hosting the weekend pop-up for over a decade, Mike Bass, the director of ScrapFest and local artist, said some participants were leaving with empty bellies. In past years, a few collectors would bid on a handful of high-value sculptures, but many artists were forced to sell their work for drastically less than anticipated. After consulting with veteran sculptors, Bass and his organizing committee decided to forgo the auction this year.
“The auction — while exciting in its own way — was the most deflating experience for the artists and us,” Bass said. “It was common to see pieces that could be sold for thousands of dollars — given enough time and marketing — going for hundreds.”
One horror story from ScrapFest involved a team that built a sculpture with an estimated retail value of $3,000 — and selling it for around $200. Andrew Sandstedt, ScrapFest veteran and artist, said most artists didn’t complain about not making a profit — knowing that a portion of the proceeds went to the Old Town Commercial Association as well as a designated charity. What stung was witnessing patrons get a steal of a deal on a sculpture, only to flip it on Ebay for quadruple the price.
Without an auction to generate the excitement around each piece, Bass said he contacted local businesses to garner interest, including zoos, animal rehabilitation centers and commercial landscaping companies.
As part of the new sales model, sculptures will go for a reduced price on Friday. After the festival, the artwork will be sold at a higher rate based on a price range generated from past years’ art sales. Bass said that potential buyers are “welcome to make other offers,” leaving it up to the artists to accept.
“At least then, if an artist’s price goes for lower, it’s their decision, rather than something that happened to them,” Bass said.
ScrapFest is now its own business entity and will put 40% of artists’ sales toward producing next year’s event. Fifty percent of the sculpture sales will go to the individual artist, with the rest to be donated to Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center — which works with young survivors of sexual abuse during the investigation process.
A labor of love
Sandstedt, 45, has participated in ScrapFest every year either as a solo artist, or with his friends Manny Lopez and Jeff Seelye. This year, Sandstedt, Lopez and Seelye created a decadent bouquet of lilies and cattails called “Bloom,” inspired by the local flower boutique, Where the Wild Things Bloom.
“If we want to drive and change that culture in the Greater Lansing Area to get people to spend money on art,” Sandstedt said, “let’s sell it for what it’s worth."
This year, the festival extended the competition timeline from two weeks to four. That’s a relief to artists such as Sabrina Egeler, 41, who works full-time as a marketing manager and has two pre-teen daughters.
Egeler and her boyfriend, Andy Leiber, spent 98 hours over three weeks building “What About Bob?” a 6-foot-by-6-foot sculpture inspired by one of their foster dogs. With two years of ScrapFest under their belts, the couple has grown closer while working in the tight confines of a garage. However, her 12-year-old daughter is less enthused about the three weeks during which she hardly sees her mom, Egeler added.
In addition to giving up time with her kids, Egeler purchased a tig machine for gas tungsten arc welding — a device which can cost around $2,500 — specifically for this project. However, she said what makes up for the time and money she devotes to competing “is the reward of conquering a new challenge.”
Lansing is for artists
Another first this year is a team from Chicago that drove to Lansing in June to participate in the scrap metal haul at Friedland Industries in Old Town, a longtime sponsor of ScrapFest. The scrap metal haul is the traditional beginning of the competition. Sandstedt said he hopes that out-of-towners traveling to Lansing to compete or buy work from the festival continues to trend and serve as a “wake-up call” for locals.
Bass said he hopes to extend the festival to other parts of the city and include non-visual artists that utilize scrap materials as part of their craft. Bass added that the ScrapFest committee is “committed to collecting the data from this year” to determine if the new format was the best solution.
Friday, July 12 – Saturday, July 13
Friday: 6 –10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Turner Street, Lansing
Friday, July 12
6 -10 p.m.: All of the Above Hip Hop Academy
Saturday, July 13
10-10:45 a.m. : Alex Mendenall
11-1:45 a.m.: Kendall Cassella
12-12:45 p.m.: Deacon Earl
1-2:15 p.m.: The Dangling Participles
2:45-4:45 p.m.: Creature of One
5-6:30 p.m.: The Appleseed Collective
Friday, July 12
6 – 10 p.m.: LCC Welding Department Showcase
Saturday, July 13
10am - 7pm: LCC Creative Welding
12pm - 5pm: Reach Studio Art Center