Yellow Springs’ intimate Art and Soul Fair

Art: Dylan Engler’s “erosion” glass bowl

By Lisa Bennett

Famous French  Artist, Edgar Degas once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Degas, one of the founders of the Impressionism, believed that being able to use art to reach people was as important as the Artist being able to learn from the responses and interaction with the viewers. For local artist Sara Gray, embracing that concept comes naturally. “I always learn something new from people when they come look at my art.”, says Sara, adding “A lot of people see different things in different art and that’s what I think is fascinating about doing art shows.” Sara is a glass artist, who showcases some of her work in “Village Artisan” in downtown Yellow Springs. Her enthusiasm for her art is palpable and is reflected in the beauty and intricacy of each piece she creates.

For an Ohioan, Sara is way ahead of the rest when it comes to environmental responsibility. Like her peers from other parts of the country and around the world, Sara recognizes the extreme importance of reducing one’s carbon footprint and being ecologically aware. In fact, she only runs her kiln when it is full so that she can minimize the environmental impact as much as possible. Using a full kiln is only part of her commitment to the helping future generations inherit a cleaner world. What makes Sara’s work so unique is that she doesn’t just create new pieces from raw materials. She often recycles old glass products like wine bottles, for example, and turns them into functional art pieces. She uses a process called “Slumping” which basically melts existing glass products down into molds to create new ones. Olive trays, platters, cheese trays, even “boats” for succulent planters are just a few of the many functional and decorative art pieces she can create with the process.

For Sara, an opportunity to escape the hum-drum of everyday life and work on something she enjoys is important.  It’s a good thing too, because Sara uses a unique kiln process that takes 11 ½ hours at temperatures reaching over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit to create! And that’s just the first firing. Most of her pieces are re-fired 2-3 times before the process is complete. From concept to completion, each piece can take several days to create. It is definitely not a craft for those wanting instant gratification, but it is certainly rewarding for folks like Sara who love being able to lose themselves in their work, and for those lucky enough to own one of her works of art.

Putting the “Fun” in functional

For artist Dylan Engler of Engler Glass, art is about having fun and giving people a chance to use his creations in their everyday lives. He describes what he loves about working with glass saying, “You can have an idea, but you really don’t know what it’s going to look like until you pull it out, and that’s the exciting part.” Dylan makes his art functional as well as fun, which has allowed him to sell some of his work in the popular store, “Anthropologie” and has earned him recognition on HGTV and in Elle Magazine. His work has even been displayed in the Museum of Arts and Design in NY. Dylan is also showcasing his beautiful art at the upcoming “Art and Soul” Festival in Yellow Springs. Dylan’s art really puts the fun in functional. Dylan Engler says, “Any of my trays can be an art piece on a display stand, or you can use it for entertaining. A lot of people like to do both.”

It’s not only his artwork that’s fun, but also the story that goes with it. Buying a hand-crafted item at a festival can add serious value to the piece. Here’s why: An art piece has its own intrinsic value but when the item is autographed and included in a photo with the artist, the value of the piece skyrockets. Consider if your grandparents purchased a guitar that was played by “The Beetles” star, John Lennon. Now imagine that the guitar was autographed and your grandparents had a photo of themselves with the band when they purchased it. The value of the guitar would be more than doubled! It’s the same with art. Each piece is valuable in and of itself, but when there is a story and memorabilia to go with it, the value increases.  The story also adds a sentimental value that makes the piece all the more special.

Size Matters

One great way to buy some fabulous art and get the story too, is at the “Art and Soul Festival” in Yellow Springs. The festival, which will take place on, Saturday Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a wonderfully unusual event that gives people a chance to really get to know the artists and how the artwork is created. Dylan Engler says, “This event has high-quality work in all different price points. There is something for everyone.” What makes the festival so unique is that it is much more intimate than other festivals. Each artist can take the time to explain his or her process and in doing so, make every piece of artwork come alive with a rich story and if you ask nicely, a photo of the piece with the artist (after purchase). Organizer and clay artist, Lisa Goldberg, has a strong reputation for creating quality events.  Her passion for art and helping other artists is what drew her to create the Art and Soul event. Says Lisa, “In creating Art and Soul, it allowed me to create an intimate art fair, where people can still have the chance to talk to the artists and find out about them and what they do.” In the art world, size really does matter; at least when it comes to fairs. Larger fairs carry heavy volumes of people which make it hard for customers and artists to connect and talk about process and evolution of the art itself. That soulful interaction between artist and consumer is a crucial part of what makes the fair so special. But soulful and intimate doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to see. This year, Art and Soul will host woodwork, leather, painting, photographs, multiple kinds of glass work and beadwork, and various ceramic artists who use different firing processes resulting in very different styles. “This show gets stronger and stronger every year. Which means each year, I am more excited about it.” Says Lisa Goldberg.

And why wouldn’t she be? Hand-made gifts are one of the hottest new trends on the market this year. “Hand-made gifts are so great because each one is special.” Says Dylan Engler. The love, the passion, and the effort that goes into each piece, whether it is decorative glass or a hand-crafted leather key fob, can be felt and seen in the superior craftsmanship.

Perhaps the best part of shopping at an art fair however, isn’t the fact that the products are all made in America or the fact that each purchase, however small, has a story behind it and helps support an artist. Perhaps the best part of the show isn’t even the chance to get someone something really cool for the holidays. Perhaps, just perhaps, the best part comes with the lessons we can learn by talking to others and experiencing art through an artist’s eyes.

Art and Soul will be held on Saturday Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 200 South Walnut Street in Yellow Springs. For more information, please visit https://www.Facebook.com/ArtAndSoulYS/

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Lisa Bennett
Reach DCP freelance writer Lisa Bennett at LisaBennett@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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