Schmeckfest: Annual festival to serve German meal, exhibit native’s mathematical artworkFREEMAN — Math isn’t always scary. That’s what Freeman native Kevin Gross tries to express through his art.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
FREEMAN — Math isn’t always scary.
That’s what Freeman native Kevin Gross tries to express through his art.
Gross, who now resides in Goshen, Ind., is this year’s featured artist at Freeman’s annual Schmeckfest, a festival that began in 1959 as an authentic German meal.
Schmeckfest, a tasting festival, has grown to a two-weekend event that draws thousands and is comprised of food, a musical and demonstrations, all celebrating Freeman’s heritage of the Mennonite people. This year’s 54th annual festival is Friday and Saturday and March 30 and 31 at Freeman Academy in Freeman.
A 1979 graduate of Freeman Academy, Gross produces fractal art — art created with the assistance of fractal-generating computer software and mathematical formulas. Typical fractal pieces are a variation of irregular curves and shapes paired with bright colors.
“The structure is all buried in equations. I’m not creating the pattern itself, but finding it can be a real challenge.
“And, yes, they are created using math, but what do you see and what do you feel when you look at them? It’s the gorgeous colors, organic shapes and infinite detail that keep pulling my interest back to fractals,” Gross said.
Gross’ work is one of many things to take in at Schmeckfest. Among the others are noodle making and tours of the Heritage Museum.
Meals are served at 4 p.m.; meal tickets for Saturday and March 31 are sold out. There are tickets available for meals Friday and March 30.
A musical will be performed at 8 p.m. each night, and there is an extra performance March 29. Tickets are $10 to $16, depending on seating. This year’s musical is “The Wizard of Oz,” and Hofer said because of the musical’s popularity, it should draw a large crowd. The Freeman Area Children’s Choir is part of the musical this year, too. The choir will play the roles of the infamous munchkins.
Served are traditional German foods including sausage, stewed beef, cheese buttons, sauerkraut, fried potatoes and kuchen, which Stewart Hofer, president of the Freeman Academy Auxiliary, said is always a crowd favorite.
Tickets are $20 for the meal. All proceeds go toward the Freeman Academy.
Hofer said Gross’ work should also be a draw to the festival, which usually brings in 1,000 attendees each day.
“We like to feature a Freeman graduate. Gross’ work is a great combination of math, art and science. It’s fitting for a school like Freeman Academy,” he said.
Gross has been dabbling in fractural art since the 1980s.
“I was really fascinated by the images being produced,” he said of a particular program. “In the late ’80s, back then, computer graphics were pretty crude. They had wider-lined diagrams, shaded polygons, nothing that looked realistic at all. This program created natural and organic curves and shapes and brilliant colors. I was hooked.”
Gross studied chemistry, computer sciences and physics in college and worked in information technology at Goshen College for 25 years before fully committing to his artwork.
“I think of it a little bit like landscape photography, but instead of running out in nature and taking pictures, I’m running around on a mathematical landscape looking for interesting patterns and structure,” he said.
Gross’ exhibit, along with other demonstrations, will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. each day at Starling Hall on the Freeman Academy campus. The city’s Heritage Museum will be open for viewing, and special presentations will be held at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on the life of J.J. Mendel, the founder of the Freeman newspaper, and on growing up in a Mennonite community.
For more information on Schmeckfest, visit www.schmeckfest.com.