With an eye for the handmade, Cyclops returns
- Published: September 13, 2018
By Jill Summerville
Festivals are a dime a dozen in this area, but the mass-produced goods on offer leave something to be desired.
That drove local artist and shop owner DJ Galvin to co-create a different kind of festival — one where attendees can buy handmade arts and crafts from the artists who made them.
“There were a lot of festivals [in the Midwest where crafts were available],” Galvin said this week. “But nothing was handmade.”
So in 2011, Galvin and her husband and business partner started Cyclops Fest, “a celebration of food, music, and interactive art,” in her words. It features the work of artists on hand to wax eloquent about their wares and their artistry.
“With independent makers and handmade artists, you can talk to the person who made the goods,” Galvin said.
After a one-year hiatus, Cyclops Fest returns this Saturday, Sept. 8. It is back at its original home — the John Bryan Community Center lawn — from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine.
Cyclops — as it is known locally — is a family-friendly festival focusing on art from the do-it-yourself, or DIY, community. This year attendees will meet independent makers and indie vintage sellers, create live art, participate in interactive demonstrations, dance to music from DJ Nordic, from Columbus, and DJ Etch, of Dayton, and may also partake in refreshments via food trucks and libations from the beer tent.
Vendors from Yellow Springs and beyond will offer coin jewelry, inspirational spoon pendants, whimsical hand-dyed fiber arts, henna and face painting, apparel, artfully designed fire logs, horror punk hair flowers, steam punk ceramics, boho chic jewelry and much more.
One thing that makes Cyclops Fest special, Galvin says, is watching “families experiencing things together.” This year, Jess McMillan will guide the creation of an interactive mosaic, sponsored by the Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton.
For Galvin, it is important that the inspiration behind Cyclops Fest not be compromised. Galvin took a year off to decide how best to acknowledge the festival’s growing popularity without sacrificing the relaxed, communal feeling it fosters.
After 2016, when the festival had to change venues due to the unavailability of the Bryan Center, Galvin spent last year deciding how to best showcase the festival’s defining features. This year, most of the participants are full-time artists, she said. Another change this year: previously, Galvin has exhibited her own artwork, but this year she will not.
Galvin runs the store Urban Handmade, with Justin Galvin, who grew up in Yellow Springs, and her mother-in-law, Connie Galvin. Urban Handmade is founded with the same aesthetic principles as Cyclops Fest. Nothing sold in the store is mass produced. Galvin sells her own art in the store, though not exclusively. She is willing to explore any art form that excites her. Most recently, she says, she is enjoying screen printing T-shirts.
For someone who for a long time did not have a shop, Galvin found there were few places in the Midwest to share and sell handmade art before Cyclops Fest. She and Justin Galvin knew they wanted to start a festival to help artists, but they were not sure what to call it. Suddenly, Galvin imagined a monster, Cyclops, who, “creates his own universe with a paintbrush.”
If Cyclops Fest is its own universe, it is one where visitors can encounter new experiences in an encouraging environment. In past years, attendees have learned the nuances of a silk maker’s process, and children have been offered interactive lessons about screen printing T-shirts.
A graphic artist and graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Galvin “knew as a kid that she wanted to be an artist [and loved] art in all capacities,” she said. As an adult, she also knew what kind of artist she wanted to be — an independent one. Ten years ago, when they were sure it was the right time in their life together to start their own business, they were equally sure Yellow Springs was the best place to do it.
Like Yellow Springs itself, Cyclops Fest is a welcoming space where attendees will be surrounded by personalized expressions of creativity.
“It’s a collaborative, fun festival, “said Galvin. “Everyone is smiling. Even the volunteers love working [there].”
For a full list of vendors and more information on the event, visit http://www.cyclopsfest.com.
*The author is a writer, performer and Antioch College alumna who lives in Huber Heights. She can be reached at Tworpp@aol.com.