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Although Mardi Gras is over and the last king cake has been eaten, you can still experience art, music and theatre – New Orleans style – at ARTi Gras on Saturday, March 2 from 5-10 p.m. in Downtown Akron.

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Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) continues its event series, Downtown Art Works, in conjunction with the free monthly Downtown Akron Artwalk. Provided through a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Art Works adds activity and live performances to enhance the existing Artwalk experience.

Enhancements include Creole Cinderella, an original production featuring NEOS Dance Theatre and the Ribtickler Band at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.  Though it follows the original storyline, The Creole Cinderella is set in pre-WW I New Orleans. It combines all the fun and frivolity of Mardi Gras with such classic tunes as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Basin Street Blues” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”  This is an outrageous, silly and often touching retelling of the classic tale and is a delight for the entire family. Performances are scheduled in 20 minute segments starting at 6:30 p.m.  This schedule is designed to allow visitors to tour all Artwalk destinations.

Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts will present an upcycling fashion show and a boutique of upcycled products. Upcycling is a not-so-new concept of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products. Students will have items for sale ranging from bracelets and buttons to pencil holders and sketch books. Proceeds from the boutique will be donated to Summit Artspace. The fashion show will showcase shoes, belts and apparel made from plastic grocery bags, newspapers and postcards.

Guests will enjoy musical performances in an unplugged and social atmosphere by guitarists Brian Feltner, Major Lee and James Marron, flutist Jane Berkner with accompanying keyboardist, Stewart Freedman, singer Zach, Kyle Magilavy Jazz Combo and the University of Akron Jazz Fusion Band.

As a way to let guests show their love of the Artwalk, there will be a text-to-vote competition for favorite galleries.   After the top three venues are named, a drawing of voters for each gallery will award gift cards to spend in those shops.

To tempt your taste buds, Cajun cuisine will be available for purchase at various Artwalk venues from Zydeco Bistro, the Orange Trük and Ms. Julie’s Kitchen.

Many Artwalk participants are getting into in the theme, including the Illusion Factory at Summit Artspace. Children of all ages are welcome to create colorful Mardi Gras masks.  Each child will craft their own mask and explore how to make the mask come to life with movement characterization and sound.

Also in keeping with the theme, Zeber-Martell Gallery and Clay Studio will provide a complimentary, handmade ceramic ARTi Gras fleur de lis pin to the first 50 people to stop in (limit one per person). Each pin is numbered, dated and signed.

It may not be the French Quarter, but the Downtown Akron arts district will be bustling with excitement through performances and experiences in a style all our own.

Brian Feltner at September Art Works event

Brian Feltner at September Art Works event

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