Children create works of art with chalk during the Chalk the Walk event as part of the Ethos Celebration of the Arts. This year’s festival will feature more than 80 artist booths, live music, a refreshment area and more north of downtown Franklin throughout the day Saturday. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Art is taking over the heart of Johnson County this weekend.

More than 80 fine artists showcasing everything from painstakingly crafted jewelry to flowing, animated glasswork to soothing and serene paintings will be spread throughout downtown Franklin. Performers playing jazz, folk, steel drums and more are going to fill the air with music all day long.

Chalk-art opportunities for families will turn the sidewalks into creative canvases.

“It’s going to be a huge weekend of art for Franklin,” said Danny Causey, executive director of Discover Downtown Franklin. “There’s going to something for everyone in town if you’re into the arts.”

The Ethos Celebration of the Arts returns to Franklin, albeit at a brand new time of year blending fresh features with existing activities. Discover Downtown Franklin, the Franklin Indiana Public Art Advisory Commission and Festival Country Indiana have worked with community partners and sponsors to bring visual, performing and other forms of art in a weekend-long festival.

“Ethos is really about bringing those fine arts to town. It is Franklin’s premier fine-arts event,” Causey said.

The Ethos festival was founded in 2019 as a way to showcase Franklin’s robust arts community. That effort has been successful, as the festival has grown in reputation to include major competition winners from some of the largest art contests in Indiana and the region.

Over the years, the festival has moved around the calendar, initially being held in August before moving to October for the past three years. Organizers found that the later date did a disservice to participating artists as well as the event as a whole.

“What we found was, after talking to our local artists and experts, after that long summer art show season, a lot of artists were just running out of merchandise,” Causey said. “We didn’t want to be the last one of the year where the artists just didn’t have anything left to sell.”

Festivities for this year’s show start with the Canvas Clash, a fundraiser for Discover Downtown Franklin, on Friday. The live art battle on the second floor of Franklin Elks Lodge No. 1818 asks competing professional and amateur artists to create a work in a 20-minute time frame. Over the course of three rounds of competition, the ultimate artist will rise to the top. For $10 admission, the general public gets three votes to choose their favorites and crown a winner.

Live music by the Happy Enchiladas and a DJ set by Octo+ add to the carnival-like atmosphere, while free popcorn from the Historic Artcraft Theatre and a cash bar will keep attendees happy.

“The idea is a really fun time. There’s a ton of art, with an art battle happening right in front of your faces,” Causey said.

The centerpiece of the Ethos celebration has always been the juried art fair. Professional artists, or those who want to be professional, will have the chance to put their paintings, sculptures, glass- and metalwork, multimedia pieces and many other forms of art on display for the public to consume.

A panel of judges will award prizes to those deemed the best — including $1,000 for the Raymond F. Turner Best of Show award. Turner was a Franklin-based artist who active in the regional art scene, earning renown throughout his career in Indianapolis in design and historic preservation as well as for his paintings in later years.

Before his death in 2020, he was a member of the Creative Council of Franklin and a longtime supporter and member of Franklin Heritage and the Historic Artcraft Theater.

“He really was kind of the godfather of this current art movement you’re seeing today in Franklin,” Causey said. “He’s a regionally and nationally known artist, and people see his work all the time, from the restored murals inside the Artcraft Theatre to other incredible work around town. We wanted to honor him.”

Visitors to the festival can also browse from more than 80 booths from the competing artists and discover the perfect piece to take home with them.

Accompanying the sculpture, paintings and more will be artistry of a different kind. Live music is planned throughout the day, from the island sounds of Circle City Steel to the smooth Goodman-Joven Jazz Duo to the Americana of Will Scott and Maria Devigili.

“There will be non-stop music during the event, so people always have music to listen to,” Causey said.

Chalk the Block, a community chalk-art showcase, will take over North Main Street with colorful and whimsical creations.

When they’re not taking in the breath-taking creativity of the festival, people can migrate to a refreshment area at the Artcraft Theatre where they can find beer, wine, soda and water for purchase. Restaurants throughout downtown will be open and serving food as well.

Meanwhile, other downtown businesses are offering their own additional activities and experiences to complement the festival.

Generation Art and Frame has invited watercolor artist Luke Buck to do a live painting demonstration, as well as showcase his own renowned work throughout the afternoon.

He’ll be joined by more than 40 local artists displaying their pieces, which will be available for viewing and purchasing. The shop is offering a sale on framing and art supplies, pre-made art kits for kids and adults and drawings to win prizes.

At the Historic Artcraft Theatre, movie buffs can catch a screening of “The Kid,” the classic Charlie Chaplin film from 1921. The silent movie will be accompanied by a live musical score performed by Jay Warren on organ — recalling the experience of seeing the film when it was originally screened.

“We think Franklin’s art scene has just blown up over the past few years, and we want to keep that going,” Causey said.


Ethos Celebration of the Arts

What: A day-long art extravaganza featuring more than 80 artist booths, street musicians and a refreshment area serving beer, wine, pop and water.

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: North Main Street and East Madison Street

Cost: Free admission, all ages friendly

Chalk the Block begins at 11 a.m. right in front of Main & Madison Market Cafe on North Main Street. Register to chalk a 3-feet-by 3-feet squareto share your creativity and for a chance to win $100, $50 and $25 cash prizes. The cost to enter is $10, and people can find a link to enter at

Music schedule:

11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Circle City Steel

1-3 p.m.: Goodman Joven Jazz Duo

3-6 p.m.: Will Scott & Maria Devigili



Canvas Clash

What: A three-round art competition where 14 artists have 20 minutes to create works of art in front of a live audience. The event is a fundraiser for Discover Downtown Franklin, who is putting it on in partnership with the Franklin Department of Public Art and the Franklin Public Arts Advisory Commission

When: 7 p.m. Friday; doors open at 6:30.

Where: Second floor of the Franklin Elks Lodge No. 1818, 56 E. Jefferson Street.

Cost: $10, which includes three votes for the artists

How to buy:; tickets will also be available at the door as supply allows.

Other activities: Organizers will have free popcorn from the Historic Artcraft Theatre and there will be a full cash bar open throughout the evening. The Elks lodge does allow for carry-in food if attendees would like to bring something in.

Live music will be provided by The Happy Enchiladas and a DJ set by Octo+.