FLYER GUIDE: Artosphere Festival rolls along with nature-related events

The Squonk Opera will present its show “Sonic Cycle” during the Trail Mix events on Saturday and Sunday. The Pittsburgh-based troupe rides human-powered music stages.

Courtesy photo

With the first events of the annual Artosphere Festival already in the books, the event is “off to a running start” says Jennifer Ross, the director of programming for the Walton Arts Center. And throughout May, it will continue to not only run but bike and hike as well.

What: Artosphere Festival
When: Through May 20
Where: Various venues in Northwest Arkansas
Cost: Various, but many events are free
Tickets: Call 479-443-5600 or visit

Artosphere, now entering its eighth year, is organized by the Walton Arts Center as a way to showcase art and nature and the ways they intersect. The festival is anchored by two critical elements, Ross said – the Trail Mix Concerts, which take place on Saturday and Sunday (May 13-14), and the Artosphere Festival Orchestra, which begins a series of local appearances with a sold-out performance on Friday at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

The popular Trail Mix concerts take place Saturday along the Razorback Greenway, with a schedule that moves guests north along the route as it passes between Fayetteville and Bentonville. Events will take place along the way, with a kickoff party with bike decorating by the Community Creative Center beginning at 8 a.m. at the parking lot on the southwest corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue in Fayetteville and concluding with free live music from noon to 5 p.m. at the Garden Party at Crystal Bridges. In between are live performances at Lake Fayetteville, near Mill Street in downtown Springdale, the Mercy trailhead in Rogers and Lawrence Plaza in downtown Bentonville.

The party picks up and moves to Walker Park in Fayetteville on Sunday with performances headlined by Squonk Opera’s production “Sonic Cycle”. The performance, which begins at 7 p.m., features performers riding bicycles that double as music stages.

The Artosphere Festival Orchestra will return to Dickson Street for pop-up concerts on May 18.

Photo courtesy Beth Hall

The Artosphere Festival Orchestra will likewise take place in many venues on several dates. The festival orchestra contains players from across the country who travel to the region specifically for the shows. Many return each year for the chance to play so many gigs in so few days.

“All of the musicians come back,” Ross says. “They love doing a residency.”

The largest-scale performances from the group are a pair of shows in Baum Walker Hall in the Walton Arts Center. The orchestra will perform works from Mendelssohn and Brahms on May 17 and close the festival on May 20 with selections from Dvorak and Dorman. Select orchestra members will also take the show to the street when they perform pop-up concerts at various Dickson Street venues on May 18.

Siloam Springs-based country act Sons of Otis Malone will perform Saturday and Sunday as part of the Trail Mix concerts in along the Razorback Greenway and Walker Park in Fayetteville.

Courtesy photo

Other events returning to the festival include the chamber music series and various children’s programming. Among the children’s programs is a first for the organization. Special performances of “The Way Back Home” on May 14 and “The Man Who Planted Trees” on May 20 are billed as “relaxed performances.” These performances featured muted sounds and less dramatic lighting changes to accomodate those with sensory input disorders.

“We think it’s important that everyone sees live theater,” Ross says.

Information about the Artosphere Festival can be on the event’s website and also on its new mobile app. The new app includes schedules and exclusive content about the various performers in town for the event.

2017 Artosphere Schedule

– Through Sept. 4 – “Glacial Shifts, Changing Perspectives” by Diane Burko, Joy Pratt Markham Gallery in the WAC in Fayetteville
– Through May 31 – “Things I am Learning in My Twenties” by Livvy Pierce, Dickson Street in Fayetteville
– 8 a.m. May 13 – Trail Mix Square to Square edition, beginning in Fayetteville
– Noon to 5 p.m. May 13 – Crystal Bridges Garden Party, Crystal Bridges
– 4 p.m. May 13 – Dover Quartet, Crystal Bridges
– 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. May 14 – “The Way Back Home” by Teatre Branar of Ireland and Teater Refleksion of Denmark (Note: 4 p.m. is a relaxed performance of this show)
– 5 p.m. May 14 – Trail Mix: Walker Park, Fayetteville (Squonk Opera begins at 7 p.m.)
– 6:30 p.m. May 16 – The Séamus Egan Project at Sassafras Springs Vineyard, Springdale
– 7 p.m. May 17 – Artosphere Festival Orchestra: Mendelssohn in Scotland, Walton Arts Center
– 7 p.m. May 18 – AFO: Off The Grid, Dickson Street, Fayetteville
– 6 p.m. May 19 – John Luther Adams’ “Inuksuit” presented by Third Coast Percussion, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Fayetteville
– 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 20 – “The Man Who Planted Trees” by Puppet State Theatre of Ireland (Note: 2 p.m. is a relaxed performance of this show), Walton Arts Center
– 8 p.m. May 20 – Artosphere Festival Orchestra: Artosphere Festival Finale, Walton Arts Center

Trail Mix Square to Square Performance Schedule (May 13)

 West Avenue parking lot (8-10 a.m.)
– Bike Zoo butterflies
– Bike decorating by Community Creative Center
– Square 2 Square ride starts

Lake Fayetteville
– 8:30-9:45 a.m. – The Crumbs 
– 10-11:30 a.m. – Rozenbridge

Artosphere stage close to Mill Street (Springdale)
– Bike Decorating by Arts Center of the Ozarks, bike parade at 12:30
– 9-10 a.m. – Claire Lynch 
– 10:30-11:30 a.m. – Mariachi Escencia de America & Ballet Folkorico Herencia de Mexico
– Noon-1 p.m. – Seamus Egan Project

Mercy Trailhead (Rogers)
– 10-11:15 a.m. – Melody Pond 
– 11:45-1 p.m. – Sons of Otis Malone 

Lawrence Plaza (Bentonville)
– Bike Zoo butterflies, late morning
– 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Squonk’s “Cycle Sonic”

Crystal Bridges Garden Party (Bentonville)
– Noon-5 p.m. – Artosphere Festival Orchestra ensembles
– 4 p.m. – Dover Quartet ($25)