Artscape celebrates 35th Anniversary by partying ‘like it’s 1999’

The 35th annual Artscape, the country’s largest free arts festival, kicks off on Friday, July 15, 2016, and organizers have promised a weekend that will feature new components like a Kidscape Academy, six large-scale space-themed art installations, and a partnership with Accessible Festivals, a California-based nonprofit that aims to ensure all attendees are able to enjoy themselves regardless of their ability.

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean

The annual event, which begins at 11 a.m. Friday and continues through Sunday on Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street, will also include a tribute to the late music icon Prince.

Artscape will also feature superstar Wyclef Jean as the headlining act.

“Besides the outdoor concerts with the headline acts, this year featuring Wyclef Jean, The Mighty Boss Tones and Burning Spear in his last Baltimore performance; I think festival-goers look forward to the visual art installations,” said festival spokeswoman Tracy Baskerville.

The festival theme of space is a starting point for interpretation, tangible, literal and metaphorical, and spans across all disciplines, according to organizers.

The theme is also a nod to the vast STEAM— Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics— related organizations and businesses within the Baltimore Metropolitan region and to pop culture’s current fascination with all things intergalactic.

Six space-related large-scale art installations will be featured, including ART/HAB, a space age habitat housed in three geodesic domes, Celestial Light – Act 1. Sun and Act 2.

Moon, two large-scale sculptural elements that measure 20 feet in height and feature performance art; Crater, a fictional meteor crash site-turned alternative art space; Moloch’s Institute for Extranormal Research that explores “the truth about alien visitors to planet earth;” Space Place, consisting of illuminated inflatable planets and the sun; and the The Mother Ship Connection, an exhibit of performance art featuring a model mother ship.

Festivalgoers will be able to explore the physical, relatable distance of space travel with “The Grand Tour,” a model “solar system” of planets on Charles Street.

“The space theme will be highlight in the children’s activities at Kidscape which is a greats hands-on, activity area for families,” Baskerville said. “Also, people look forward to the yummy food and what’s new this year is that 100 percent of the food vendors are Maryland based.”

This year, Artscape will also host two tribute performances, “Prince Dance Party — Party Like It’s 1999 Again,” a tribute to Prince with DJs, and “Bmore Does Bowie,” a tribute to the late rock legend David Bowie by various bands, both at the Johns Hopkins University Station North Stage from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The 2016 festival’s primary musical guests will be Jean, the former front man for the Grammy-winning group, The Fugees.

Jean is scheduled to take the main stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday while The Mighty Boss Tones are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and the Legendary Burning Spear at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The three-day event takes place along Charles and Mount Royal streets in Mount Vernon, and attracts more than 350,000 patrons over the weekend.

“I would like to remind attendees of the many indoor performances and exhibitions that take place. Artscape is not just outside,” Baskerville said. “With the festival footprint, being along Mount Royal Avenue and Charles Street, it may take more than one day to really see everything. For a full schedule of everything, guests can download the Artscape mobile app.”

For a complete listing of festival activities, including the music lineup, visit: www.artscape.org.