July 18, 2012
Almost every weekend, somewhere in Wisconsin, you can find an art fair.
Wisconsin annually hosts almost 200 arts and crafts fairs.
Art fairs delight the senses.
A man gives a gentle touch to smooth glass; a woman caresses a silk scarf. Youngsters shout with glee. Every tent brings a new palette of colors and shapes. The smells of kettle corn and roasted peanuts mix with aromas of leather and paint.
Particularly at art fairs, people dress to express their own individuality, adding to the kaleidoscope.
Art mirrors the earth from which comes all life. All of the art is from the same earthy materials: glass, metal, clay, wood; paints and canvas come from plants and oil.
But from this sameness comes immense diversity. Intense to subtle, colors and motions bring delight.
Themes are whimsical to provocative; from sublime to confrontational – diversity abounds.
The same materials of the earth take on very different shapes and colors.
Just like the people admiring the works.
“Oh, I really like that.” “No, not at all.” We pepper the air with our judgments about the art. But every item appeals to someone.
This summer I am enjoying the opportunity to visit a few art fairs and speak with artists. I’ve come to see art as a way of life.
Many Wisconsin artists spend their winters creating and their summers going from fair to fair connecting their works with admirers. Anyone who has spent a week at the fair showing cattle knows the experience can be exhilarating and exhausting.
Art, like showing cattle, can be a generational experience. I met a Wisconsin woman and her grown daughter who create traditional Chinese brush paintings. Charlotte, the mother, paints the landscapes. Kim, the daughter, paints the detailed tigers and dragons. Together they make beautiful paintings. Even more amazing since the daughter lives in California. They are truly a family living art.
The artist has a vital role in our community. Many of us are busy with the hustle and bustle of life. The artist beckons us to put our lives back in balance. The artist is able to see what has been obscured. The artist helps us open our eyes to our blind spots.
One artist I know is able to transform intense emotions into a canvas of color. She shared with me that an early difficulty she faced was giving up her interpretation of color when she sold her paintings. She learned to allow others to look at her canvas and see something entirely different.
The artist told me, “It’s up to the rest of us to translate the art we see into meaning and direction for our own lives.”
But living art is not just for the artist.
“Art is all around us,” she told me. “You must pause a moment and open your mind.” It’s about the way we look at things. How we experience what is around us.
For most of my life I thought of art as something someone else could enjoy. I now know there are starving artists just like starving dairy farmers. And those starving artists would be eager to share what they create with dairy farmers.
In fact they created an art fair just for those of us who long to purchase artwork but can be inhibited by the price. The Starving Artist Outdoor Fair will be held in Racine on Sunday, August 5th. No piece sold in the art fair will be priced more than $300.
Closer to home in western Wisconsin, a hundred artists will fill the beautiful river front park in Stockholm on Saturday, July 21st from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
More information on the plethora of Wisconsin art fairs can be found in a directory published by the Wisconsin Arts Board. The directory can be found on line, http://artsboard.wisconsin.gov/docview.asp?docid=22748&locid=171 or call my office (877-763-6636) and I will send you one free of charge.