Yoram Gal
Yoram Gal

The Labor Day Weekend — and extended — schedule has only limited in-person outdoor activities based in Royal Oak, mixed with lots of digital presentations.

Israeli artist Yoram Gal is among some 20 artists participating onsite in this year’s Arts, Beats & Eats, the annual festival currently diverging from its usual format because of COVID-19. The Labor Day Weekend — and extended — schedule has only limited in-person outdoor activities based in Royal Oak, mixed with lots of digital presentations.

Gal, who has been coming to Michigan for many years to show his paintings at different summer art fairs, is introducing 10 large works that span Israeli locales and personal outlooks. Among his new pieces are “David’s City Jerusalem,” “Galilee Poppies” and “The World.”

Jerusalem by Yoram Gal
“Jerusalem” Photo courtesy of Yoram Gal

As part of Art by Appointment, taking place Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 5-6, at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, Gal will schedule 75-minute appointments to discuss the paintings, which also can be seen online. Tickets to meet with any of the multi-media artists are $5.

“My art evolves all the time,” said Gal, who also will be showing an image adapted from visions appearing in a disturbing pandemic dream. “I am using more diverse materials because I don’t like being bored. I try new styles and techniques and allow myself freedom with subject matter.

Tree of Life by Yoram Gal
“Tree of Life” Photo courtesy of Yoram Gal

“I have a following of collectors in 40 countries, and the interaction with them influences the work. More and more portraits of mine and of patrons who commission theirs are happening.”

Gal, who has felt safe with masks and social distancing during recent professional travels and will do so for the Michigan event, said experiencing the deserted airports disturbed him. Although booked by four other United States festivals, he is disappointed that three have been converted to totally digital events.

Old Jaffa by Yoram Gal
“Old Jaffa” Photo courtesy of Yoram Gal

Jon Witz, event producer for Arts, Beats & Eats, has been working with health officials in Oakland County to maintain appropriate conditions.

Jon Witz
Jon Witz Arts, Beats & Eats

“We found a safe way to bring people together in a fun, physically distanced way to help support local musicians while giving people access to the type of entertainment they’ve been missing,” said Witz, a Brandeis University graduate who also has produced Menorah in the D. “All events meet current state of Michigan event guidelines.”

While live concerts are popular at the annual event, this year’s music will be offered Sept. 4-7 in a drive-in setting at 6th and Main streets and online Aug. 27-Sept. 3 with nearly 200 performances. Among the performers representing a wide range of musical styles will be Thornetta Davis, Laith Al-Saadi, Eva Under Fire and Larry Lee & The Back in the Day Band. Each drive-in performance will deliver a pair of 30-minute, high-energy sets.

Concerts are planned to benefit local music performers with a total goal of raising $500,000, made possible with the addition of matching grant funding from Oakland County..

“We want to raise money for a hard-hit industry,” Witz said. “There will be application forms for monetary assistance for any musicians who have agreed to perform in concert, virtually or drive-in, if 50 percent of their employment revenue came from the music industry prior to COVID-19.”

The “Eats” part of Arts, Beats and Eats will appear directly in communities as food trucks travel to unannounced areas.

“We’re not announcing where the trucks will be so we don’t overwhelm the neighborhoods,” Witz said. “We’re trying to be creative, spread some fun around and keep people safe from a crowd perspective.”

Arts, Beats & Eats is maintaining its associated health activities for eventgoers, live and online, while supporting people who have been out of work.

A live Zumbathon Celebration goes virtual at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Donations of $5 will benefit Forgotten Harvest and the Beats Go On GoFundMe campaign for unemployed musicians. 

“Stretch for a Cause, Yoga to Live Music” begins at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6, in the main stage area. The family-friendly program will feature live music by Blackman/Wailin, and the $15 donation fees will be split among local yoga instructors and musicians.

“We do not know how long we’re going to be dealing with COVID-19, so I think it’s important to move the needle forward in the event industry in a safe fashion,” Witz said. “I think the decisions we make now in exploring creativity, how to do things effectively and what the public might be interested in will shape the future of the industry.”

For more information on Arts, Beats & Eats – live and virtual – go to artsbeatseats.com.


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