Art, uninterrupted

Art on the Commons Arts and Crafts Festival returns

By CC Hutten

Photo: Mugs made by Lexington, Kentucky artist Melissa Zimmerman color the 2014 Art on the Commons display at Fraze Pavilion. This year’s event will be held Aug. 9; photo: Shayna McConville

For nearly 30 years, the Art on the Commons fine arts and crafts festival has put the spotlight on 100 artists throughout the country, featuring artwork for display and sale.

Art on the Commons features anything from digital art to woodwork, also including ceramics, glass, jewelry, hybrid media, painting, photography and paper. This year, those one hundred artists were chosen from over 200 entries by three jurors: Director of Weston Art Gallery Dennis Harrington, Dayton artist and teacher Marsha Pippinger, and Assistant Director of Education and Engagement at Victoria Theatre Association Justina Crawford-Williams.

“[The jury] can be subjective, but they look for artwork that is one of a kind and for artists with a clear vision and a unique voice in what they are trying to communicate, and who are masterful in terms of materials they’re using,” says Shayna McConville, who is going on her fourth year as Cultural Arts Manager of City of Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts.

The event began as an art festival in the Rosewood Arts Centre, in 1985 in an elementary school as a destination for art classes and performances. Since then, it has grown immensely. McConville says a lot of the growth can be attributed to Connie Campbell, the previous cultural arts manager.

“Our mission has always focused on a competitive process of showing fine artists. Festivals like this are part of artists’ economic livelihood,” McConville says. Over the years, they’ve strived to make the event more interactive for patrons of all artistic backgrounds, in addition to showcasing competitive fine artists.

Over 25 artists are based in Miami Valley, and, aside from Ohio, other participating artists hail from Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

Painter Amy Kollar Anderson says her reputation as a colorful, narrative and surreal painter fits into the Dayton art scene, which is represented at Art on the Commons.

“[It’s a] diverse scene,” she says. “I feel right at home in the complexity of it.”

Another notable artist, Kelly Crosser Alge from Findlay, Ohio, works with kiln glass and a combination of art techniques from other media such as collage, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography and design.

One of her current focuses is called fused glass powder scraffito drawings, which are images made of 100 percent glass. She manipulates the powdered glass with card stock, her own fingers, sharpened erasers and other “tools.”

Painting and sculpting are large portions of the artistic categories, however, many artists have other unique specialties, such as Elizabeth Barthel’s custom jewelry.  Barthel, who will travel from Franklin, Tennessee, works with multiple types of metal, such as platinum or sterling silver.

“Jewelry of any kind is a wonderful gift but a custom designed piece offers a different level of satisfaction and excitement,” Barthel says on her website. Barthel has featured displays and sales in venues like the Galleria M, Eclectic Junction and the Illinois Artisans Shop.

Not only will guests be able to view and purchase artwork of different forms, options for interactive art activities will be provided for patrons of all ages and artistic backgrounds.

For $10, classes like Rosewood’s ceramic tile painting and glass sun catcher making aid patrons and art lovers of all levels in creating a one-of-a-kind handmade craft. There are also children’s activities available for free.

Some of the artists lead workshops as well. Specifically for Alge’s workshop “Inks and Drinks,” patrons will be guided in making their own masterpiece through a step-by-step process using alcohol inks to create drawings or paintings.

In addition to displayed and interactive creations, Art on the Commons will feature Dayton-based band Puzzle of Light as live entertainment all day long. Puzzle of Light, a quintet with jazz, rock and ethnic music backgrounds, is known for its experimental sound and regard for nature.

“The band members are visual and sound artists,” McConville says. “They’re very well established, with quite a following. There’s a dynamic variety of live performances throughout the afternoon.”

A selection of local concessions will showcase food of Miami Valley: Fraze Pavilion’s Ernie’s, Kettering’s Sweet P’s Handcrafted Ice Pops, Kona Ice, Harvest Mobile, Taqueria Mixteca, the Shakery Juice Bar and Greek food by BJ Events.

“High quality is what keeps people coming back,” McConville concludes. “Attendants can look forward to an opportunity to go outside, to be physically active—but also enjoy fine arts without any pressure to purchase anything.

“It’s at-your-leisure enjoyment of the art and the park. Buy work, learn things, put your feet in the water and listen to [the music]. There’s something for everyone. People can come in and buy some new artwork, supporting the local economy. People can also come into the event and learn something.”

Art on the Commons Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, presented by Rosewood Arts Centre, will take place Sunday, Aug. 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lincoln Park Civic Commons, located at 675 Lincoln Park Boulevard. For more information, please call 937.296.0294 or visit playkettering.org/aotc.

Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at CCHutten@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com

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