Mike Abb of Bentonville is creative director with Runway NWA, a DJ and public art and event coordinator. Earlier this year, he collaborated with several groups to repaint basketball courts at the Jones Center in Springdale to pay tribute to the heritage and geography of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, where many Northwest Arkansans hail from.
1. What are you working on now? A number of public art projects across the region, including one at Jefferson Park in Fayetteville where we are painting the basketball court with designs from Fayetteville artist Cory Perry. I love working on overlooked places that can be dramatically changed with a touch of beauty.
2. What is your favorite local spot to gather inspiration? A great part about living in Arkansas is the access to nature. With the addition of the ever-expanding trail systems here, I find myself immersed in the forest every chance I get. The forest is the ideal place to channel your thoughts and see how planet Earth is designed.
3. Tell us three handmade items on your wish list. I would love to have some custom textiles from Hillfolk that I could display on my wall or take to the park and sit on. It would be nice to have a sweet new jacket from LVSN for the winter months. For No. 3, I’d top it off with a custom chair from Matt Buell.
4. Name three can’t-live-without locally made eats or drinks. Gotta start with Native Nectar juices. Seriously, folks, this is the fountain of youth. The CSA agriculture boxes from New South Produce — real food from real folks right here in Arkansas. I also really like the Lil’ Wrecker IPA from Bentonville Brewing Co. It’s a perfect post-bike ride reward.
5. Where do you go to find handmade crafts and gifts? The Bentonville and Bella Vista Farmers Markets are really stepping up their game, and you can always find something local and handcrafted. As a bonus you get to meet the artisans and hear how and why they got into creating.
6. What craft fair do you most look forward to and why? I really dig the winter market held the past few years at the Meteor Theater. It’s a really eclectic mix of items and a great social gathering with folks from across the state.
7. What’s your favorite local hangout? My new fav hangout is 8th Street Market in Bentonville. They have so many things under one roof. It’s the modern take on the mall, and I dig it.
8. Name a local musician who’s under the radar and deserves more recognition? I really enjoy the work of Will Gunselman, a Bella Vista-based singer/songwriter. He can absolutely channel the depth of emotion in us all and allow his music to free it from us.
9. What’s your favorite art/music venue or event? I’ve been joking that Northwest Arkansas should rebrand to call itself Eventonville. With so many great things happening every week, I would be remiss to say anything is my favorite. I live in the moment and each day I wake up and get to enjoy the wealth of things to do in this area, and that is my favorite feeling.