Woodstock was an iconic part of the 1960s, as a free-spirited weekend of music, love and peace that captured the nation’s attention from its staging grounds in upstate New York. Its long-reaching impact is legendary and it’s is one of the defining moments during a tumultuous era — musically, politically and culturally. And here in west Oakland County, an abbreviated and family-friendly version of that event is born again through the Fourth Annual Peacefest, which offers a reprieve from the harsh politics and economic hardship our nation has faced by offering shades of hope through art and music expression.
The highly anticipated and free-of-charge event slated for Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3 will be held in and around the L.A. Cafe, located at 5815 Dixie Highway in Waterford Township.
The outdoor art and music festival operating under the mantra of “By artists, for artists” was launched by Darren and Heidi Graunstadt, owners of the L.A. Cafe, in 2009.
“Darren’s been wanting to do one of these for years and it’s his brainchild,” Heidi Graunstadt said. “We started small with a call out to artists to show up and exhibit their art and it became so popular. Local residents and (Waterford Township officials) asked us to do it again.”
Working in conjunction with the Waterford Area Cultural Council, the 2012 Peacefest is expected to continue to grow in attendance thanks to the efforts of the Waterford Chamber of Commerce (WCC) and the township, among others.
“It’s tripled in size since it began,” said Waterford Treasurer Margaret Birch. “It’s restoring culture to that center (of the township), the historic district.”
WCC Executive Director Marie Hauswirth noted that due to the absence of a downtown area in the township, Peacefest serves as a perfect venue for local artists.
“From my perspective, it helps to cultivate culture into the community,” she said. “We have so many talented artists here, but not a lot of venues to exhibit their work. Peacefest is one of the beginning ways to do that by bringing out local artists and giving them a platform to show and sell their work.”
Darren Graunstadt, as the current president of the Waterford Area Cultural Council, has continued to expand the event’s creative itinerary by incorporating music and the work of the Oakland Schools Technical Campus (OTC) vocational school.
“Darren brought them in because he attended OTC for graphic design,” Heidi Graunstadt said. “He took over as president of the cultural council to bring in art for all ages.”
“Even our poster was designed by the visual imaging class at OTC under the guidance of teacher Kristen Miner,” Darren Graunstadt said. “The whole class presented 10 designs and we picked the one that best represented what we had in mind.”
“The Cultural Council’s membership has diminished,” Hauswirth noted. “It’s just a core group that’s held on, but now that Darren is president, as a business owner and having an artistic background, he can find ways to market and build the culture again.”
Both Graunstadts have a background in art. Darren paints murals and portraits and freelances as a graphic artist; Heidi creates jewelry and sculptures.
“Art is our love. We travel and try to find interesting pieces all over,” Heidi Graunstadt said. “It’s great to get one-of-a-kind, homemade art that’s reasonably priced. None of the art at Peacefest is pre-fabricated.”
One idea Darren Graunstadt formulated to raise funds for the cultural council was to provide “peace buddies” — dolls that vocational students, artists, local businesses and L.A. Cafe customers can decorate to be auctioned off during Peacefest.
“All proceeds will benefit the cultural council to bring more events into the area,” Heidi Graunstadt said. “Last year we held the event down Dixie Highway to include other businesses, but not all of them were enthusiastic, so we are keeping it on our large lot this year. However, some of the businesses have told Darren they will have their own festival in the future along Dixie.”
Currently, nine local bands are lined up to play live music throughout the entire two-day event. Times are still available for others interested in performing. The line up is as follows:
Saturday, June 2
• 10 a.m. to noon (vacant);
• noon to 1 p.m., Mike McKinstry, acoustic guitar;
• 1 to 2 p.m., Guy Harrison, acoustic;
• 2 to 3 p.m., Jason Milan, acoustic guitar;
• 3 to 4 p.m., Crystal Gem Apple, free improv;
• 4 to 4:30 p.m., Powerout
• 4:30 to 5 p.m., Alan DJ Music, ’50s-’60s.
Sunday, June 3:
• 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (vacant)
• 12:30 to 2 p.m., Collin Sylvester, acoustic guitar;
• 2 to 2:30 p.m., Talan, techno;
• 2:30 to 3 p.m., Corey, acoustic;
• 3 to 4 p.m. (vacant).
Jason Milan, the acoustic guitarist set to perform June 2 from 2 to 3 p.m., has been in the music business for 25 years. His sound includes influences ranging from Middle Eastern and Far Eastern rhythms to Spanish and western variations.
“I play all solo instrumental acoustic guitar,” Milan said. “My sound also ranges from freely played organic compositions to strictly timed electronic driven ones. All of my music is original.”
Milan began doing sporadic solo performances in 2005. This will be his first Peacefest appearance.
“I played in a few bands since then, but the solo project has taken the spotlight for the time being,” he said. “I am very excited to be part of an event like this. Supporting and being a part of the local art and music scene has opened a lot of doors to new friendships to teach and learn from.”
While he performs solo, he is still very much a part of his band, The Grasshoppers.
“Music for The Grasshoppers is about tuning in to nature’s hum and being in harmony with its tune,” he said. “It is about joining the self-conflicting mental division and being at peace with the self. It’s amazing what one can achieve when the conflict is suppressed.”
This year’s Peacefest will feature a metro Detroit artist, famed 1960s psychedelic poster artist Carl Lundgren.
“He’s known for Grande Ballroom posters that he did back in the day, around the 1960s and 1970s, and fantasy artwork,” Darren Graunstadt said.
Seventy-five artist vendors have signed up so far to participate in Peacefest, including the following:
• Angie Musiel: Scrub hats, bags and visors, and golf crafts;
• Evan Claire Martin: Coin purses, pouches, tote bags, and handbags;
• Tim Shoemaker: Welded metal sculpture;
• Tuesday Dowd/Sherry Pilarczyk: Crochet and sewn items;
• David Yoroz: Art furniture (rescued barn wood, scavenged woodpile firewood, and other components that create an eclectic mix of unique tables and other furnishings);
• Steven Gamburd: Watercolor paintings and illustrations, prints and originals;
• Kara Upperstrom: Paintings, jewelry and crafts;
• Cherlyn Jenkins/Lindsey Wallace: Funky handmade jewelry;
• Lori Suber: Light-up toys;
• Amanda Morrill: Henna tattoos;
• Cheryl and Keith Duffie: Framed and matted drawings, cards and handmade boxes;
• Michelle Thibodeau: Detailed fantasy art, drawings and prints;
• Hayley Hungerford: Cards, illustrations, dream catchers and terrariums;
• Maureen Roberts: Oil paintings, jewelry and organic tea;
• Rick Cheadele: Painted furniture and wall art;
• Mary Catherine Heaton: Hand-painted glass and hand-painted rocks;
• Christina Vanchina/Tiggany Carr: Airbrush tattooing;
• Stephanie Simek: Jewelry, frames, mirrors and knitted and crochet items;
• Juja and Stone (Stina Yurgil and Tami Strzelecki): Handbags hand-made from recycled materials, tie-dyed items and vintage clothing;
• Karen Smith: Sandblasted glass and paper boxes;
• Denyse Couture: Photography, salvaged items and boxes;
• Anita Baum: Bead work, button work, collage work and leather;
• Eric Swiatowy: Metal sculpture and stick people;
• Brandee Kaylene Ross: Hand-made, wheel-thrown pottery;
• Ellen Christine Devine: Paintings, multimedia, jewelry and peace- and chakra-themed items;
• Christina Davis: Glass luminaries, soy candles, jewelry and incense;
• Martha Calderon/Pam Hennigan (Sisters Suds and Salves): Natural body care products;
• Rebecca Eichelberg: Candles, lip balms and vapor rubs;
• Teddy Fitzmaurice: T-shirts and buttons;
• Rachel Goldsworthy: Photography (portraits, weddings, high school seniors and families);
• Cindy Heming: Oil paintings;
• Linda Graunstadt: Sewing, crochet and jewelry;
• Alan “Fuzzy” Woolever: Framed records (33s and 45s) and vinyl colored records;
• Meredith Rose/Emily Salig: Recycled jewelry and urban photography;
• Archie Neil, Jr.: Landscape and nature photography;
• Denette Dwyer: Face and body painting, temporary airbrush and glitter tattoos;
• Isabel Gugyella: Peace jewelry, Hello Kitty and Swarovski jewelry;
• Ben Phillips: Wildlife photography; and
• Jane (Gertie) Ekstrom: Tie-dyed shirts, hoodies, peace shirts and micro macrame.
“All are local Michigan artists, people in our area that make a living at it,” Darren Graunstadt said.
Peacefest will also feature a disc golf area from Up in the Air Disc Golf, face painting for kids, and booths manned by local charities.