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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


REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Kimberly Brecko tries on a hat by artist Chris Treick at Art in the Park, one of the many exhibits on display at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Six-year-old Natalie McCormick of Lake Oswego enjoys learning to play drums at the RMC Studios booth, one of the Kids Get Creative activities on Friday. How hot were the exhibits at the 52nd annual Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts?

They were so hot that the weekend’s sizzling temperatures and stifling humidity couldn’t 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 center’s executive director, says the festival did see a slight dip in attendance from last year because of the unseasonable weather, but he says the city’s signature arts event was still a resounding success.

“We know we’ve 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.

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Sondra Bittner of Lake Oswego and her daughter Addilyn, 2, work on an art project at the Kids Get Creative activities on Friday. 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 “Artist’s Vision.” The center also was home to this year’s 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.”

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Eight-year-old Payton Walker of Lake Oswego admires her painted face, the handiwork of Lake Osego High student Cher Fong. 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 we’re all used to having them on our clothing and our bedding and in our homes,” Yazhari says. “They’re really a powerful tool to make a political statement.”

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - David Miller, 10, of Lake Oswego finds the perfect spot to cool off at the Festival of the Arts on Friday afternoon. Artist Yukiyo Kawano explored fabric’s 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. “It’s not that we are devaluing traditional techniques, but we’re wanting a lot of personal expression with them.”

This year’s 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.

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Mike and Lindsay Kavanaugh check out the work of jewelry artist Anne Lindsay at Art in the Park.“I find it very validating to say, ‘I can take this historical woman’s work, with women who did not have access to art education and could not consider themselves artists, and I’m collaborating with these anonymous women,’” Yazhari says of her technique.

Leading visitors into the exhibit was “CHROMA Passage: Dissected,” a portion of Janice Arnold’s 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, it’s a transition to come in and experience this whole thing and enter the exhibit,” she says.

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Laurie (left) and Erna Treske of West Linn admire the work of student artists at the Lakewood Center.  8: Audrey Underdahl of Lake Oswego shops for the perfect hat at Art in the Park.Arnold’s 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 that’s 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 ssorenson@lakeoswegoreview.com.

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Audrey Underdahl of Lake Oswego shops for the perfect hat at Art in the Park.REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Jasmine VanDemarr performs Saturday afternoon with Anita Margarita and the Rattlesnakes at George Rogers Park.REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Elyse Yohman of West Linn keeps cool with an ice cream cone in George Rogers Park.REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Teresa Buettner checks out the special exhibit at the Lakewood Center for the Arts.

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