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With the start of a new arts season, my inbox is just stuffed with press releases for festivals and public art projects, various and sundry launches and shows around town. With all that’s going on, don’t let this weekend’s Western Sculpture Park Festival pass you by.

Western Sculpture Park’s annual festival is this Saturday, September 15 from 1-5 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. Photo from the 2011 festival courtesy of Public Art Saint Paul

Western Sculpture Park’s annual festival is modest, relative to the size and scope of some of the giant, destination arts-festivals you see in the Twin Cities. But at just a few hours long, it’s the perfect late-summer afternoon excursion, a delightfully shaggy celebration of the city’s cultural and artistic diversity. The festival is presented each year by Public Art Saint Paul and features multicultural exhibits of visual arts and live performance, as well as guided tours through the sculpture park, all rounded out by the usual festival amenities — food trucks, face-painting, kid-friendly art-making activities and artist-led demonstrations.

Spin art with folks from Franconia Sculpture Park. Photo from the 2011 festival, courtesy of Public Art Saint Paul

Here’s a sampling of some of the notable artists participating this year: photographer and Third Place founder Wing Young Huie, educator and performance artist Jamal Abdur-Salaam, installation artist Lourdes Cue and multimedia artist Mary Johnson. Those in attendance will also be able to “spin-art” with Franconia Sculpture Park’s John Hock. Closing out the afternoon’s festivities will be a cabaret of live performances: hip hop artists Hilltribe, singer/songwriter and social justice activist Heatherlyn, Tou SaiKo Lee with his grandmother (and first-generation immigrant) Youa Chang, performing as the charming hip hop duo Fresh Traditions (see the video above for more about them, and about Hmong hip hop).

The festival is Saturday, September 15, from noon to 5 p.m. in Western Sculpture Park, located at 375 Marion, between Interstate 94 & University Ave., just west of the Minnesota State Capitol. Find details on the Public Art Saint Paul website and an updated list of artists and schedule of events on the organization’s Facebook event listing.

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