June 12, 2010

Variety and surprises at Monument Square Art Fair

More than 100 artists -- most of them from Wisconsin, but a few from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan (and one each from Florida and Arizona) -- have their craftsmanship and creativity on display at Festival Park, in the mis-named Monument Square Art Fair this weekend.

The art fair continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Art, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Here are a few pieces that caught my eye.

Top picture is a glass sculpture by Dan Fenn of Lansing, Iowa. Yes, it reminded me of Dale Chihuly's elaborate glass hangings seen at the Racine Art Museum -- the difference being that Fenn and his wife actually blow the glass themselves (Chihuly is famous for having others make "his" glasswork), and the Fenns' work is affordable. This piece is $600 -- $30 for each of the 20 individual pieces; buy as many as you like and hand-pick the colors. Their website is here.

Gregory Dinauer of Madison makes unusual three-dimensional glass sculptures -- most of those on display doubled as mirrors doubling as "contemporary representations of your favorite city skyline." The large one with leaves and mirrors on the left went for $850. More on his website.

Connie Thompson of Oregon, WI, has been making these original fibre-based dolls for ten years; she estimates that she's created more than 1,200 of the whimsical creations already. Sometimes she knows exactly what will turn out; other times she lets her materials guide her -- as she did with the sea shells that became Athena, left. Athena was priced at $150; Tallulah at right was $125. More at her website.

Look closely at this quilted piece held by artist Joan Ladendorf of Hanover Park, IL. She's been making fabric artwork for more than 20 years, and says she has more than 12,000 pieces of fabric. But that's not what's unusual about the piece she's holding: it's a Mobius Strip, notable for having just one side and one edge. A one-sided quilt, in other words.  Being just one-sided, you might think it took just half the time to create; you'd be wrong. It was selling for $450 as a conversation piece. More on Joan's website.

This set of photos has a hidden message; how long did it take you to figure out? Photographer Laura Spaulding of Racine has created a series of pictures she calls Say It With Fotos, "See it, Say it, Spell it." She says she's constantly stopping the car to take a picture of this landmark or that -- so she can fit it into a word or name series. Her word photos are priced by the letter. The one above is $105. More on her website.

Terry Hunt of Luddington, MI, gave up a career has a custom home builder in favor of creating whimsical wood sculptures. Doors no longer have to fit just so; roofs don't have to be waterproof when he makes his sculptures. The grizzled sailor in the foreground -- he's about four-feet tall -- was priced at $595.

And last -- but certainly not least -- the largest bug we've seen so far this summer. Herb Johnson's metal creation is meant for the garden ... a garden that will scare the birds, dogs and neighborhood kids away. This dragonfly stood about eight feet tall on its stand; its wingspread is 80 inches. Johnson, who teaches jewelry making and metalsmithing to high school kids in Hartland, WI, is asking $1,900 for it. More (and smaller sculptures, too) on his website.