The Carmel International Arts Festival is reinforced this year by Carmel’s two new sister cities.
The VanRiper-Woodard Family Foundation will sponsor artists from Jelgava, Latvia and Cortona, Italy. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard recommended inviting the artists to the Carmel International Arts Festival, taking place September 24-25 in the Carmel Arts & Design District.
“During my time in Italy, when I partnered with Cortona, I was able to experience the arts and culture of this region firsthand,” said Brainard. “I also came to learn more about Latvian art and culture. I look forward to our residents and visitors having the opportunity to share in the cultural exchange experiences of our new relationship. I appreciate the work the festival board has done to make this happen so quickly.”
Sebastian DelBrenna, an artist who works with jewelry, is Cortona’s representative. DelBrenna created his own collection featuring gemstones, Italian coins and chain designs.
“I love meeting new people and explaining our family history and traditions,” DelBrenna said. “Because our jewels are the result of our intense manual work, they are best explained face to face, but also because we explain the workmanship that connects our history with the history of our land and territory, Cortona. I would love for people from Carmel to come and visit Cortona and our family studio where the jewelry is made.”
DelBrenna has attended US arts festivals in the past, but this is the first since the COVID-19 pandemic halted travel in 2020.
DelBrenna’s grandfather founded the company in 1947.
“My father invented four handmade necklaces. My idea is to only use these four handmade chains to craft all our collections by hand, link by link in our family studio (in Cortona, Tuscany),” he said. “DelBrenna incorporates its signature chain into every DelBrenna design. The iconic chains are the heart and soul of our jewellery, where every step is completed by hand. Every single element in the signature chain is the result of an 11-step process patented by DelBrenna.”
IIze-Emse Grinberga from Jelgava is an artist and sculptor. She is known for her fireclay sculptures, which can be seen in a riverside garden in her hometown.
Grinberga will bring large photo posters of sculptures to show their work at the Carmel Festival. She will also bring smaller pieces of china intended for Christmas tree decorations.
“It’s like a miracle combined with good fortune,” Grinberga said. “I happened to meet American Honorary Consul Andris P. Bērziņs this July and heard about the idea of town twinning. After our meetings and conversations, I took this opportunity as an honor and an incredible opportunity to present our work on the other side of the world.”
Grinberga came to the United States for college in 1995. Sculptor and professor Māris D. Benson selected a few lucky students from the Latvian Academy of Arts to receive the scholarship to study at Humboldt State University, now Cal Poly Humboldt, in Arcata, California.
“I was selected and it turned out to be one of the most remarkable experiences of my life, not only to study my craft, but also to learn about a different culture, meet new lifelong friends and participate in many events and festivals,” said Grinberga. “I have attended art galleries in Los Angeles and many other arts and crafts events in California.”
Grinberga said Latvia is not rich in gems and minerals, but it has clay.
“So it’s only natural that the second oldest profession, pottery, is the most famous and honored art form and craft in my country,” she said. “I have loved and felt comfortable with clay since I was a child. I deeply understand. We have centuries-old ceramic traditions, and our training in them is fundamental and monumental, from conceptual to practical. I learned all mediums and materials, porcelain, earthenware, chamotte, clay and so on.”
She is also bringing leather work from her sister-in-law, the artist Ilizan Grinberga.
Festival opening hours are 11:00am to 7:00pm on September 24th and 11:00am to 5:00pm on September 25th. Visit carmelartsfestival.org for more information.
Provision of an elevator
Indianapolis businessman/artist/philanthropist Turner Woodard’s family has strong ties to the Carmel art community, dating back to the days when his stepfather, Guernsey Van Riper, owned the Van Riper Gallery in Carmel.
Woodard, whose offices are in Carmel, studied art at the Park Tudor School and the Herron School of Art and Design.
“I’ve always loved art and art communities and what art society brings to the joy of life,” Woodard said. “I’ve always been a supporter and supporter of that. I love to paint myself. When they needed help to get this town twinning project off the ground, I thought about it and was happy to help.”
Given his stepfather’s ties, Woodard said it was an easy decision.
Woodard said he loved being involved in the arts community in downtown Indianapolis when he owned the Stutz building.
“The arts will be in the top 3 of any vibrant, progressive city,” Woodard said. “Carmel seems to be doing her part. I didn’t know too much about the Carmel International Arts Festival. I’ve been there before, but never with any real connection. The international connection with these artists from Italy and Latvia should be an attractive part of it.”
Woodard was one of the founders of the Stutz Artist Society. Woodard will be showing his work during the festival in the former home of the Evan Lurie Gallery on Main Street.