The first-ever 18th & Vine Arts Festival is set to showcase over 50 Black artists across three days. The first-of-its-kind festival brings art, music, food, and community together Sept. 28 to Oct.1. In the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.
Festival Director Quez Beasley, says this is the first of what organizer’s hope becomes an annual tradition in the 18th & Vine district, with each year having a different theme. This year’s theme is Afro-futurism. The increasingly popular genre of art—think of the look of the film “Black Panther”—that features futuristic or science fiction themes while incorporating elements of Black history and culture.
Quez, who is a performer, promoter and artist himself, noticed that many other neighborhoods in KC had arts festivals but not 18th & Vine. So he met with City 3rd District Council member Melissa Robison and got the ball rolling on organizing an arts festival. Over the next year, Quez pulled together a planning team and secured fiscal sponsorship from KC’s Neighborhood Tourism Fund, Troost Market Collective, the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce and others.
Over 50 Midwest Black Artists
While most arts festivals have a fee for artists to set up a booth or tent, Quez and his team decided to allow the artists to showcase their work for free. By lowering the barrier to entry, more up-and-coming artists, who may not have the means to pay a fee, are able to participate.
The result is more than 50 artists have signed up. Their work will be displayed on the festival grounds from Paseo Blvd to Truman Rd along 15th to 18th streets.
In addition to up and coming artists, the festival will feature a who’s who of area Black artists, some names include:
- Warren ‘Stylez’ Harvey who’s acclaimed for his acrylic paintings and portraits.
- Michael Toombs known for his murals and interactive community-based art.
- Randy McCall an internationally known artist specializing in neo-soul afro futuristic dreamscapes.
- Damien Wilson founder of Imagi9 Studios who paints, sculpts, and creates digital art.
J. LeRoy Beasley and Michelle M. Beasley, the festival’s co-artistic directors, are co-founders of the Honee Babee Art Studio. The couple’s work spans sculpture, paintings, drawing, interior design, & photography and will be displayed at the festival.
“There’s a variety of art from sculpture, paintings, to some people using materials to create art,” says Quez. “It’s going to be so cool to see all the different artists that we’ve got together.”
A Weekend Filled with Art and Themed Entertainment
All three days will highlight some of the best Black area artists, displaying their works. Each day will also have food trucks, live DJs & musicians, and specials from 18th & Vine businesses.
But each day of the festival will also offer a slightly different experience.
Friday’s focus will be on fashion and the festivities kick off with a fashion show at 5 p.m., featuring the work of eight Black fashion designers. The runway will come alive with their creations, setting the tone for a weekend of artistic expression.
Saturday is dedicated to music lovers, with a full day of musical performances from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The lineup spans six genres: Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Afro-beats, R&B, and Pop. Among the highlights are highly sought-after vocalist Eboni Fondren who fuses jazz with a dash of R&B. Gospel dynamic duo Tobbi & Tommi—who previously performed at the Grammys—and some of the most spirited church choirs in the area. Elisha Israel & AZ-ONE close out the evening with their fusion of Reggae and Afrobeats.
Sunday marks “Our Future,” a day focused on young talent and the future of the Black community. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., young artists will shine on the main stage, showcasing their artwork and talents. Collaborations with area schools and organizations like ArtsTech, and Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts will ensure the day is filled with youthful energy and creativity.
“I think Black people connect with art in so many ways, it’s a part of the Black experience,” said Michelle M. Beasley. “Art has always been an expression of us; whether it’s been through our clothes or the way we dance, my way is visual, but art is always a part of us.”
18th & Vine Arts Festival
18th & Vine Jazz District, Kansas City, MO
Fri, Sept. 29, 5 to 10 p.m.
Sat, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sun, Oct. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
$10 Single Day – $20 Weekend Pass
For tickets and more info, visit 18thandvineartsfest.com