When people talk of street art, Arkansas doesn’t really come to mind. However, the aptly-named Unexpected Festival is a 10-day festival that happens in Fort Smith, AR. Many street and contemporary artists from around the world have contributed to this event annually, and this year’s festivities boast of even more amazing names.
Artists like our own favs Bordalo II and Alex Diaz, as well as world-renowned Faith47 and Guido van Helten, created stunning works of art that are larger than life and certainly eye-catching. Fort Smith’s downtown area keeps improving each year thanks to this project, and virtually turns the city into a makeshift outdoor gallery.
The project is described as bringing urban contemporary art to Arkansas. In addition to the previously mentioned artists, others involved in this year’s show are Okuda San Miguel, Jaz & Pastel, and Cyrcle, as well as festival returnees D*Face and Maser (the latter lived in Fayetteville for some time). The actual painting and installations ran from September 2 to 11, and the exhibition is currently running until Saturday, October 1.
The top notch artists painted murals, put up installations (both indoor and outdoor), and cast video projections, while JUSTKIDS’s Charlotte Dutoit curated the show. Only in its second year, The Unexpected is already making waves in the art community and to everyone who is bold enough to experience such sights.
Honestly, with such vibrancy and immersive nature, it’s really hard to miss! In a city of about 100,000, the second-largest in the state, The Unexpected is still, as the name suggests, unexpected in downtown Fort Smith. The larger-than-life works of art are sure to catch peoples’ attention, and we at TAE hope to be there in future events!
“We always have to try to find a way to keep it unexpected,” event organizer Claire Kolberg said in an interview with local news. “We have introduced a few of those new types of programming for this year. It was a great opportunity for The Unexpected to introduce new audiences to new artists, and also [the festival’s expansion is] a great way for Fort Smith to continue to establish itself as the leader in public art in Arkansas.”
To give an idea of what went down, here are some videos by Zane Meyer of Chop Em Down Films:
Here are some photos of the various pieces of art found throughout the area, shot by Raymesh Cintron:
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Thanks for reading! All the images used here are owned by their photographers and corresponding artists. Photos by Raymesh Cintron and videos by Zane Meyer of Chop Em Down Films, with permission from JUSTKIDS.