A hot time in the ol' town
Despite the heat, Festival of the Arts draws more than 20,000 to three days of art, music, food and fun
How hot were the exhibits at the 52nd annual Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts?
They were so hot that the weekends sizzling temperatures and stifling humidity couldnt keep more than 20,000 art lovers from descending on George Rogers Park and the Lakewood Center for the Arts for three days of art, music, food and fun.
Andrew Edwards, the centers executive director, says the festival did see a slight dip in attendance from last year because of the unseasonable weather, but he says the citys signature arts event was still a resounding success.
We know weve had about 157 pieces sold of about 1,200 works on display, Edwards says.
Crowds packed George Rogers Park, where 110 artists displayed and sold their work. Food vendors offered everything from Bavarian sausages to salads and sandwiches. And throughout the weekend, musicians took to the stage for a series of rollicking performances.
At the Lakewood Center, those who braved the heat in outdoor tents were treated to a stunning array of paintings and installation pieces by more than 550 artists. Nearly every imaginable style was put to canvas realist, abstract, naturalist and themes ranged from reflective to tongue-in-cheek.
Perhaps the best place to escape the heat was inside the center, which hosted an exhibit by plein air artists, another by student artists and a juried show called Artists Vision. The center also was home to this years special exhibit, On the Fringe, which proved to be an exciting exploration of the often misunderstood field of fiber art.
We were trying to create a way to show people the breadth and depth and variety of fiber art today, steering committee member Sandy Kennedy says. Sometimes the art represents the fiber technique, and has a reference to the historical work that people did in making the kind of textiles people are thinking with fibers. But it can also be wire.
For some of the works on display, fiber artists even used glass.
Until recent decades, fiber art was often dismissed as folk art or a domestic skill, only rightfully emerging as a fine art relatively recently, artist and steering committee member Beth Yazhari explains.
I think textiles have such an ability to convey an emotion, because were all used to having them on our clothing and our bedding and in our homes, Yazhari says. Theyre really a powerful tool to make a political statement.
Artist Yukiyo Kawano explored fabrics potential for statement with her piece, Little Boy. Using old kimonos that had belonged to her grandmother, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, Kawano created a softer facsimile of the infamous atomic bomb. The effect was both gentle and disquieting.
We specified that we want things that are really pushing boundaries of what fiber art can be, Yazhari says. Its not that we are devaluing traditional techniques, but were wanting a lot of personal expression with them.
This years call to artists garnered submissions from as far as Montreal, Stockholm and Amsterdam.
Yazhari, who had some of her own pieces on display in the exhibit, says her personal career dovetailed with the gaining momentum of the fiber art movement. She paints textile patterns on large canvases, then incorporates pieces of antique lace and beads from around the world to create eclectic designs that are still strangely familiar pieces she describes as part Amish quilt, part Persian carpet, with traditional Indian saris often added to the mix.
I find it very validating to say, I can take this historical womans work, with women who did not have access to art education and could not consider themselves artists, and Im collaborating with these anonymous women, Yazhari says of her technique.
Leading visitors into the exhibit was CHROMA Passage: Dissected, a portion of Janice Arnolds flowing, polychromatic soft sculpture.
We went to the artist and asked her if she would put a piece of this scope in our exhibit, Kennedy says. She said, I have this wonderful piece that could be a passage, and she installed this the lower portion of a pre-existing piece previously on exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan.
It was Arnold who opted to contribute a piece to the entrance, rather than place it at the center of the exhibit. Kennedy found it to be a perfect fit.
Especially on a hot day, its a transition to come in and experience this whole thing and enter the exhibit, she says.
Arnolds pieces contribute to the even bigger questions at play in On the Fringe.
We want people to ask, Why do we have to value one medium inherently over the other? Yazhari says. It should be the amount of creativity that goes into it. I think thats what an exhibit like this is trying to explore, with all these pieces that are on the fringe of one medium and another, breaking down those barriers. I think it came out amazingly.
Contact Saundra Sorenson at 503-636-1281 ext. 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.