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Breaking down the barriers

Visual art, music, dance and acting will be seen at the first Oregon Fringe Festival
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From the left, Daniel Chavez, Kevin Doo, Ben Mosier, Jon Janakes, Jimmy Martin and at the bottom Tyler Kubat Bob Pennell illustrationBob Pennell illustration
 Posted: 2:00 AM May 15, 2014

"In the last century, there's been this barrier thrown up between artists and the public that says art is an exclusive thing," says Jon Janakes, one of the student producers for the Oregon Fringe Festival. "Art should be something that incorporates the community."

It's in that spirit that the Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University presents the first Oregon Fringe Festival on the SOU Campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. The free event will kick off at 12:30 p.m. Monday, May 19, and run through Friday, May 23.

"The idea behind a fringe festival is that it usually follows another big festival and provides alternative arts in alternative spaces," says David Humphrey, director of the Center for the Arts and the event's faculty advisor. "They're also usually edgier than the regular festival."

If you go

What: Oregon Fringe Festival

When: Monday, May 19, through Friday, May 23

Where: Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

Admission: Free


OFF will follow on the heels of the university's Southern Oregon Arts and Research conference, which runs the week before. Humphrey says that SOAR is a good event that showcases the work that goes on at SOU, and that OFF will showcase the work that either doesn't fit into the constraints of SOAR or brings those performances into alternative spaces. There will be musical, theatrical and literary performances, as well as various art installations.

The festival, conceived by Humphrey, is run by a producers' group of eight students (including Janakes) from various arts concentrations. The group began meeting last fall to learn more about fringe festivals and discuss the concepts and ideas for their own event.

Performances will take place around campus at times when students are present.

"We've decided that, rather than keep the art in their designated performance spaces, let's take it to where the students are," Humphrey says.

Performances include a student brass quintet, classical guitarist Tye Austin, local rock band The Legendary Delta Dogs and more. One of the featured performers is beatboxing juggler Bronkar Lee, who will collaborate with SOU percussion students for performances throughout the week.

Performances will pop up in the Hawk dining hall, the Stevenson Union, walkways around campus and the Playground Stage — a scaffolding structure erected between the Stevenson Union and Britt Hall for music performances with side panels for audiences to paint and draw on.

"A big part of this festival is to break down the boundaries between audiences and performers," Janakes says.

Art supplies will be provided at the structure for audiences to contribute to the progressive, collaborative art piece while musical acts perform on and around the structure.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the event's Facebook page at or search Oregon Fringe Festival on the iTunes app store or the Google Play store to download a schedule app.

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