Last weekend, on a visit to Chicago for a friend’s wedding, I was lucky enough to attend the 62nd annual Old Town Art Fair with Ré of Sparks in Shadow. It’s a juried show running the gamut from kinetic sculpture to oil painting to jewelry, and the artists came from far and wide. We spun prize wheels for free pens and sticky notes, and a barbershop and hair salon offered free trims and $10 mini stylings, respectively. The weather was perfect (sunny with a light breeze) and the air smelled of Polish sausage and sauerkraut.
My favorite artists from the show:
Andy Chen, Indianapolis-based fine art photographer and gallery director of StutzArtSpace, a nonprofit visual art center. I loved Chen’s moody city shots and his awesome bio.
Zeny Cieslikowski, a Baltimore-born, self-taught fine arts photographer who now lives in Northern California (I should look out for him at local shows!). Cieslikowski’s photos are all on film, not digital, and he has been working long enough to have scored the domain name colorphotographs.com. His evocative photos tell such stories — they’d make wonderful writing prompts.
Marty Hulsebos, a landscape photographer whose vast vistas are filled with spare grandeur. Only the BW images were displayed at his Old Town booth. I loved the lines and swirls of his canyons and rock formations, and the play of light in his shots of forests and prairies.
Clifton Henri, a Chicago-born and -based photographer whose work provides a powerful interpretation of American life. On one wall of his booth there were these two photos, hung in just this arrangement, telling a story:
Lisa Kristine, a San Francisco-based photographer whose incredible images span the world and many species of life. She has created several books and documentaries about her work, with proceeds going to humanitarian causes. Several of her photos caught my eye at the show, but this is the one that almost made me cry. The man is the leader of a Thai monastery that rescues tigers, and this tiger was rescued as a cub.
Jay Long, an Austin, TX-based fine artist whose dreamy, surreal images and humorous creatures immediately grabbed me when I walked by his booth. I love the way his mixed-media paintings incorporate text. The old-fashioned feel of his lines, as well as the colors, make his work feel like antique illustrations from some fantastical (and slightly creepy) alternate world.
Edwin Mighell, a native artist from Alaska, who makes printed tiles from Cook Inlet glacier clay. His prints have the most beautiful gentle lines and the colors evoke a cold northern landscape. I’m fascinated with the way he depicts people and animals with their ribcage and insides showing; his blog says this is common in coastal Alaskan art. The tile below shows a shaman in his animal spirit form, a halibut.
Nha Vuu, another Austin, TX-based artist, whose paintings are an interesting new take on traditional Chinese styles. I love how her ink drawings of people and houses are almost cartoony, and they have so much movement in them, when I saw one out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a hanging mobile.
Do you have any favorite artists or art fairs to share?
Looks like you went to a great show. My faves here are Andy Chen and Nha Vuu, although everyone is turning out super stuff. I think it can be difficult to capture a city and make it interesting unless you have an”eye” and Andy does an excellent job. Nha Vuu’s work is amazing. I love it. Gonna have to consider buying one of these. Such a range too. Also, Zeny Cieslikowski’s Venice in the fog selection is very evocative of the place.
To our eternal shame we always seem to miss The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition but this year we’re going to make a special effort. By far the best exhibition I have been to was a retrospective of Piet Mondrian that was held in London some years ago. Quite superb. The current Miro exhibition in London is excellent too.
But if you really want to soak up masterpieces, as you probably know, even though there are great collections in LA and NYC etc, you must go to Paris. Jaw dropping stuff.
Alan, so glad you enjoyed this post! I felt tangibly inspired by these artists for days afterward; I love that the internet allows me to share them with others.
Some day I will get to Paris to soak up the city and its art. Do you know I’ve travelled very little outside of the US? Last spring’s trip to Hong Kong was the first time I’d gone abroad (except for single-day excursions to Mexico, etc, on cruises). I’d love to get to Europe sometime, though for now Taiwan is next on our travel list.
Very nice, Lisa! I wasn’t courageous enough to brave the crowds so soon after srgery, but I so wanted to be there! To have been there with you and/or LadySparks would have been a delight! I’m glad you guys met up and got to see some really cool stuff. Be well!
Ms. Empress, I’m glad you got to see a bit of the art fair from Lisa’s point of view! Maybe next year we can see it together? I hope you’re feeling better every day. 🙂
Aaahhh, Empress, it would have been amazing to see you too! But indeed — it was not a good place for recovery! I second Ré: hope you’re feeling better every day. 🙂 Healing energy to you!
This is by far one of my favourite parts of summer – the fairs! I’m always reminded (in a very nostalgic sort of way) of ancient street markets and bazaars. In our digital world, this kind of human to human, real life interaction, noise, smells, the casual bump against a stranger’s shoulder is so refreshing.
And these works are amazing! A fair I’ve been wanting to go to for years is the Santa Fe Folk Art Market (happening this weekend.) They bring in works and artists from around the world and fill the beautiful old plaza for the weekend. We recently had a guest writer post about the Chalk Art Festival in Denver( http://urchinmovement.com/2011/06/16/street-art/); which sounds so much fun because of the medium’s spontaneity. Would love to see the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. I saw the National Geographic photo competition at the London Natural History Museum a few years back. Amazing!
The Old Town Art Fair is now on my to-do list!
Thanks so much for visiting, Margaret! I love fairs too, for the same reasons you mention. Especially smells! We can get music while we’re online, we can eat, but there’s something about the feeling of space, and the smells coming across it, that I just can’t replicate at home. (Though I had a thought the other day: if I ever get the chance to build an art studio to my own specs, I want one wall to be open/able to the air.)
There’s a festival in Berkeley, close to me, called Chocolate and Chalk if I remember right. A couple of years ago I walked through the city the day after and a lot of the chalk drawings were still on the sidewalk. 🙂
Lisa, what wonderful reportage! And a wonderful record of some of the remarkable work we saw. Clifton Henri’s photos and Lisa Kristine’s work still make me cry– buckets! But I find all the artist’s work you’ve shared here to be very intriguing.
I liked Rudolph De Ram’s photographs, too. Especially the ones in his gallery under the titles Horses and Western. http://www.deramphotography.com/index.php I loved the animals, but I’m also a sucker for history, so I especially liked the room and the barn photos.
Ré, thank you again for sharing that day with me. 🙂 I’m happy to be able to record it this way; I know I’ll reread this post often in future and remember walking around with you!
I remember De Ram’s photos! You know what else I thought about including in this post, the kinetic sculptures and those funny animal sculptures made of found pieces of metal… but I don’t know that sculpture translates so well across the internets. 😦
Lisa, thanks for the kind words and for stopping by. Your coverage makes me wish I had more of a chance to walk the rest of the show.
Thank you for visiting, Andy! I know what you mean. At the craft fairs I’ve done, I’ve always been sad to miss the opportunity to walk around and see the other artists’ work!