By Matthew Huck
For the first time ever next weekend, the Grin City Collective will host a festival on September 20 and 21 in celebration of art, music, writing and local food.
“There’s been a lot of talk for a lot of years about doing a music festival. We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to shut down the whole farm and have a Cornstock / Woodstock festival?’” laughed Grin City founder Joe Lacina.
Lacina founded Grin City to provide a focused community for artists of any medium, musicians of any instrument and writers of any prose to practice their artistry in an involved, creative and socially driven community.
“[Grin City] is unique in that we focus on social engagement in addition to our artist residency. We do community projects in Grinnell like Rurally Good, public art outside of Grinnell Art Center, teaching afterschool art classes,” commented Molly Rideout ’11, co-director of Grin City.
Rideout manages most administration, outreach management and development pro-grams for the Grin City Collective. A panel at the Collective decides whom to admit to the residency program.
“What you need is an interest to learn, work collaboratively and, most importantly, impact a community,” Lacina said.
In 2006, Lacina invited friends to pursue a month of art creation in a facility originally used as Lacina’s family’s tofu business. Repeated in 2008, this became a theme for small groups from around the nation to visit the farm for a summer, ending with a community art show. In 2011, Rideout was hired as a residence coordinator. The Collective has since quadrupled in size to accommodate artistry in visual arts, painting and sculpting, wood and metalworking and dance and music. Lacina and Rideout just finished transforming a corncrib into three writers studios.
“We’ve been advancing astronomically lately,” Rideout said.
This year alone, the Collective hosted about 45 artists.
“[Rurally Good] doubles as a festival, but also a Grin City Collective alumni reunion,” Rideout said.
People are coming from all over the Midwest. Rurally Good begins Friday, Sept. 20, with an evening potluck, followed by performances in everything from art, music and film screenings to dance parties, lawn games and family fun.
For Grinnell students interested in attending, a shuttle system is being implemented to take students between campus and Grin City.
“There’s something for all ages out there,” Lacina said.
Over 60 artists, musicians and writers will be involved in the two-day festival.
Lovers of oratory and spoken word can catch Freesia McKee and Emily Walker, two artists in residence, Friday evening at 6:30. Or Molly Rideout, Allison Leigh Peters ’11, Mark Baechtel and J.C. Dickey-Chasins ’81 at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
For those seeking the aesthetic pleasure of the senses, the festival presents Alex Braidwood, Erin Mallea, Stephanie Clark and Anna Ford ’11 of Grinnell-based animation group Tiny Circus. Braidwood will create uniquely intriguing soundscapes with the help of archer and bowyer Kenji Yoshino ’11 at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Find out what community and art mean to Mallea, or how Clark sees the world through a filter of abstraction at the pop-up gallery from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Tofu Factory Friday.
Finally, for those musically inclined, Rurally Good has the privilege to host Christopher the Conquered, Good Safari, Misty Aeons, Too Many Strings Band and even Grinnell College students Jacob Cohn ’16, Leah Meyer ’15 and Adriana Walsh ’15, who perform at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. For a soulful American tradition trio, be sure to see Christopher the Conquered at 7:15 p.m. Saturday. If “revamped rock shaded with blues” is your style, visit Good Safari at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Festival is also in celebration of Jordan Scheibel’s one-year anniversary in Commu-nity Sustainable Agriculture. Scheibel was just on the cover of most recent Grinnell Magazine. He oversees Grin City’s half-acre Middle Way Farm, which produces enough to supply the residency artists with one weekly communal meal.
“We are taking it one year at a time,” Lacina said. “I want to develop Grin City as far as possible. I want to make it as efficient as possible.”
For more information on Rurally Good Festival & More performing artists, visit http://rurallygoodfestival.com/. Readers can find more information about Grin City Collective at http://grincitycollective.org/index.html.