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Its time for the Festival

Lake Oswego's premium arts celebration kicks off Friday
by: Vern Uyetake, 
Gearing up for the Festival of the Arts are, from left, Lois Suwol, festival co-chair, Karen Crist, festival co-chair, and Joan Sappington, festival adviser. They are standing in front of first-time festival artist Tyson Mangelsdorf’s digital piece “Radioman.”

Festival Facts

* Festival hours are:

10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday

* For more information on the festival, check out its Web site at http://www.lakewood-center.org/Festival2007.htm

* For complete schedule of events, pick up an events program in last week's Lake Oswego Review, visit the newspaper office at 400 Second St., or at various locations at the festival.

By KARA BECKER

Staff Reporter

The entire town is abuzz with excitement and anticipation for the biggest local event of the year: The 44th annual Festival of the Arts in downtown Lake Oswego.

This weekend's festival has a little something for everyone, with an Open Show of more than 1,000 pieces and a Crafts Faire with 120 juried artists. Also featured is 'The Artist's Vision,' a juried show featuring Northwest artists and the Lake Oswego Visual Arts Chronicle, an invitational for more than 50 regional artists to express their own visions of Lake Oswego.

This year's Special Exhibit is called 'Pixel: Artists Who Use the Computer.' The juried and invitation exhibit and sale is the first of its kind on the West Coast to feature a digital gallery where attendees can buy limited edition prints of works on-site.

In addition to all this, there is also student artwork for sale and viewing, as well as a Kids Day on Friday in lower George Rogers Park with activities aimed specifically for children of all ages, a variety of music and performances all three days both in the Wells Fargo Pavilion Tent at the Lakewood Center and on the West Coast Bank Stage at George Rogers Park and a wide selection of food offered by vendors in both locations.

At the helm of this year's festival are co-chairs Lois Suwol and Karen Crist, both longtime volunteers and advocates of the festival.

Suwol and Crist are part of an executive committee that meets weekly year-round to plan and organize the upcoming year's festival.

In addition to the executive committee, there is also a steering committee, which is a group of 40 people that meets monthly for 10 months of the year to assist with planning and recruiting volunteers to help make sure the festival runs smoothly.

Part of the executive committee is the special exhibit committee, a group led by curators Mark Fearing and Jeanette Pelster, who work all year to find an exhibit that is fresh and exciting for the community.

This year's digital exhibit is groundbreaking and provides fantastic exposure for new artists that work with a medium that is just starting to gain its footing in the art world.

Besides selling digital prints, artists will be on hand doing demonstrations, panel discussions, and presentations on digital media throughout the three days of the festival.

Joan Sappington, former director of the festival and current festival adviser, is a longtime fan of the Special Exhibition.

'Every year downstairs in the Lakewood Center we try to get something new,' Sappington said. 'It's usually ethnic, or a special and unusual art form, but the key is tied to education and allowing people to participate and enjoy all kinds of creative work.'

Sappington also praises the approximate 400 volunteers, having been involved with the festival herself for 25 years.

'We couldn't do it without them, they really pay attention and work hard. They put on an elegant and beautiful show every year.'

As for Suwol and Crist, both have spent countless hours planning, organizing, anticipating and, as Suwol says, 'putting out fires.'

It is Suwol's fifth year as co-chair and seventh being involved with the festival. Crist is going on her third year as co-chair and eighth year of involvement. Both women started as hospitality volunteers, and their involvement has grown along with their passion for the festival.

'Since I've worked in hospitality for years, it allowed me to see how it all worked,' Crist said. 'I saw how the steering committee operated and I wanted to get more involved, wanted to take a leadership role. It takes a unique blend of personalities to put on such an event and I just wanted to be part of it.'

Suwol is equally enthusiastic, saying that even though she has probably worked on the festival 80 hours the last week, she loves every minute of it.

'I've always loved going to art festivals and always wanted to get involved in the community,' Suwol said. 'It's an excellent marriage, it's fun, I've met wonderful people and learned an awful lot.'

Both women are looking forward to this weekend's festival and want visitors to take advantage of everything possible.

'One of the things that makes our festival unique is that it's family friendly - there are things going on down in the park for kids, exhibits up at the Lakewood Center and all kinds of food,' Suwol said.

'The other unique thing about the Craft Faire is that it's juried, so it's not just the usual kind of fair that anyone can enter,' Crist said. 'We have very good, established artists from all over the United States.'