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Creative Landscaping

August 9, 2013

Art on the Lawn in Yellow Springs

For many of us, this summer’s biggest challenge is having enough time to attend the numerous festivals, outdoor activities, and arts and cultural performances happening in the region. Amongst the numerous events taking place this August, several gems stand out, including the fine arts and crafts festival Art on the Lawn in Yellow Springs.

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Presented by the artists’ cooperative Village Artisans, August’s event will feature over 75 artists representing a wide-range of mediums. “We have a variety of artists coming, covering wood items (handmade yo-yos, flutes, etc.), ceramics, glass, enamel, photography, painting, drawing, metal sculpture, fiber/leather, gourds, paper crafts, yard art, scarves and clothing, and, of course, jewelry,” said Village Artisan member Amy Achor.

What started as an invitation-only festival for local artists 30 years ago, the event has grown to include participants from all over Ohio and several other states. The original mission of the event remains as an event that gives artists a new audience, attracts visitors to the arts in Yellow Springs, and supports the operations of the Village Artisans gallery year-round.

IMG_9086Pottery by Richard Overman. Image courtesy of Village Artisans, Art on the Lawn 2012

This year’s festival is particularly special as it celebrates 30 years of the Village Artisans and Art on the Lawn. In May of 1983, the Village Artisans opened their first Yellow Springs shop, and two months later, the first festival—than titled Art in the Yard—took place in Kings Yard. “It was really a lot of fun,” said Anna Arbor, one of the original organizers of the event. “We had a handmade sign that we stretched between two buildings that said Art in the Yard.” The festival continued to grow over the next several years, and was renamed Art on the Lawn when the festival was relocated to the larger sprawling front lawn of the nearby Mills Lawn Elementary School.

In addition to the growth of participating artists, the audience has continued to flock to the annual festival. “The event is important to Yellow Springs because it continues to enhance the reputation and the reality of this community as an art community,” said Bill Felker, Village Artisan member and co-organizer of this year’s Art on the Lawn. “It is one more way that Village Artisans and the village project an image and the service offering art to the wider area.”

IMG_9132Melinda Pinkerton at Art on the Lawn, 2012. Image courtesy of Village Artisans, Art on the Lawn 2012

As a joint effort among the Village Artisan members, it comes together through collaboration and shared responsibilities. “Art on the Lawn is maybe one of the best examples of that cooperation and support–it is a big project, and we all take on different parts of the work,” Felker said. Fellow member and festival co-organizer Sue Brezine agrees. “Art on the Lawn is successful because of the incredible cooperation of our members,” she said. “We have a wonderful balance of right and left brain folks who know their strengths and are willing to work hard for a successful show.”

Each year the festival attracts new and repeat artists, including sculptor Kotah Moon, who won the event’s 2012 “Best of Show” award and is returning this August. Based in Evansville, Indiana, Moon repurposes used and scrap metal to create sculptures. “When you deal with recycled metals, you don’t know what is going to come out of it until you start working,” she said. “Most people who visit my booth leave with more than just a piece of art, they leave with some of the energy God has given me, they leave with a story, and they leave wanting to share this experience with others,” she wrote.

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Moon joins many other emerging artists and established artists in a variety of medias and career levels. Douglas Fiely creates oil paintings of still lives, architecture and people. Reminiscent of Picasso and with a palette of muted earth tones, Fiely has exhibited his work for several years at Art on the Lawn as well as other Dayton-area galleries. From Styrker in northwest Ohio, he regularly makes the trip to the area because of the audience and support for his art. Melinda Pinkerton creates colorful paintings and contributes a portion of her sales to neurofibromatosis type II research, with which she herself is afflicted. “I bought one of her pieces last year and it is just beautiful; I love it,” said Amy Achor, a co-organizer of the event.

With a large number of artists participating, selecting a “Best in Show” can be challenging. There are no singular artists anticipated; it is everyone. “We are excited about all the artists,” said Felker. “The chemistry is what it’s all about. It’s like Kotah Moon says, “It’s the energy.”

Art on the Lawn takes place on Saturday, August 10 from 10 am – 5 pm at Mills Lawn Elementary at 200 South Walnut Street in Yellow Springs. The event is free, but checkbooks and credit cards are highly recommended for the purchase of any essential piece of artwork that you may encounter. There will also be food by local vendors, as well as live entertainment provided by Bettina Solas (a Celtic, Americana, folk autoharpist) and Mark Camden (Native American-style flute music).

IMG_9118Wood artist and musician Mark Camden. Image courtesy of Village Artisans, Art on the Lawn 2012

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Village Artisans and Art on the Lawn, a “Gift of Art Basket” filled with hand-crafted art from the twenty artists in the Village Artisans group will be raffled at the festival and includes everything from paintings to jewelry, wood carving and word turning, photographs, books, calligraphy, a journal, fabric art, glass work, ceramics and more.

For more information about the event and the cooperative, call Village Artisans at (937) 767-1209 or visit www.villageartisans.blogspot.com.

This article was published in the July 30 edition of the Dayton City Paper.

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