See art in the making at this year's Midwest Salute to the Arts, along with the finished masterpieces of 100 juried artists in a wide variety of mediums, live entertainment, hands-on children's activities and more.
The 23rd annual art show, slated for Aug. 26-28 at Fairview Heights' Moody Park at Longacre, will feature artist demonstrations for the first time in the event's history, according to director Jenny Kassly.
"Art and craft demonstrations have been added to the venue of this year's Midwest Salute to the Arts festival, giving visitors the opportunity to see art in the process of creation," commented Kassly.
She added, "Visitors can get up close and personal with the artisans to ask questions, observe works in early stages of development, see a variety of tools being used and learn where lessons are available."
The Gateway East Artists Guild, the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois and the Belleville Woodworkers will be conducting the demonstrations throughout the weekend. A wide variety of mediums will be included: watercolor, oil and acrylic painting, cartooning, ink and graphite drawing, stained glass, photography, wire sculpture, hand painted books, mixed media, loom weaving, wool spinning, jewelry-making, wheel pottery, rug hooking, printmaking and woodcarving.
The show will also continue to be the premier art event it has been for more than two decades, Kassly stressed.
Award-winning artists from all over the country gather at Midwest Salute to the Arts to display and sell their creations and compete for $18,000 in prizes, she said.
And there is something for everyone with a total of 11 mediums represented: clay, drawing/printmaking (graphics), fine craft, glass, jewelry (precious metal), mixed media, oil/acrylics, photography, sculpture, watercolor and wood.
Among this year's 100 featured artists are textile artist Mary McFarland, watercolorist Marilynne Bradley and sculptor Suzanne Lowry.
McFarland, a San Francisco, Calif.-transplant now living in Kentucky, describes the hand-painted silk women's accessories she is known for as "bold, statement pieces." The designs of her popular scarves, vests, jackets and wraps are "all about the juxtaposition of shape and color."
For the past five years, she has made Midwest Salute to the Arts a mainstay of her show route from Florida to New York and west to the Rockies because "it's a well-run, artist-friendly show embraced by the community as a whole."
At the same time, her creations have garnered many awards and attracted numerous local fans.
Bradley, of St. Louis, is a longtime Salute artist who is known for her impressionist-style paintings of St. Louis (and Metro East) area landmarks such as Belleville's fountain and Lincoln Theatre.
"I've been coming (to the show) almost since the beginning," said Bradley, also the author of "St. Louis in Watercolor," published in 2009, a collection of landmarks in watercolor along with the histories behind them. She said each year she enjoys visiting with those who regularly follow her work as well as meeting those who have never before seen her paintings.
Of her watercolors, she said, "It's my way of preserving architecture."
Lowry, a Swansea resident, is bringing her unique Diva line of copper sculptures to this year's show. These divas, all "strong women with feminine attitudes," were inspired by a recent trip to France and created using a multi-step process Lowry developed herself, drawing on the construction skills she gained growing up as the daughter of a sheet metal worker and her knowledge as a former science teacher. The copper figures, soldered, mounted on mosaic bases and accented with semi-precious stones, range in size from small "wearable sculptures" attached to cords to wear as necklaces to four-foot tall masterpieces for indoor display.
This is Lowry's first year as an exhibiting artist at the show though her works have been featured at other St. Louis-area shows and are on display at a couple of galleries. She is also organizing the art demonstrations and serving on the festival's scholarship committee.
A lifelong art lover whose other artistic pursuits have included photography and painting, Lowry said that Midwest Salute to the Arts is one of the first art shows she ever attended. Now being an exhibitor at the show is for her a dream come true, she said.
The festival will also include musical entertainment, children's activities and refreshments.
Among the performers on this year's entertainment lineup is a high energy, interactive Radio Disney show for kids of all ages as well as the Amanda Berry Trio, Acoustik Element, the John Harman Jazz Quartet and the Sky West Trio.
Midwest Salute to the Arts doesn't forget the kids either. The festival includes two special activities just for the younger set.
Children can enjoy creating their own art at the interactive art area known as the Creation Station or make their own artful purchases at the children's gallery, a "kids-only" shopping venue.
At Creation Station kids can take part in the Bed Sheet Park, where bed sheets serve as canvases, or draw to their hearts' content on the Salute Chalk Walk, as well as other activities.
The Children's Gallery is the spot for the show's youngest attendees to refine their artistic tastes without breaking the piggy bank.
"Children ages 3-11 enter the gallery and choose a piece of art, free from parental influence," explained Kassly. "After the child has selected a piece, (he/she is) encouraged to visit the artist who created the piece to find out how it was created." The cost to enter the gallery is $7.
Snacks are available inside the gallery. A variety of refreshments may be purchased in the food court area, which includes booths by civic organizations raising funds to support local projects. Wine and beer are also available in the Bistro Area.
Raffle tickets for the "Midwest Salute to the Arts Art Scholarship Program--Bringing Art to Our Schools" will be sold at this year's event as well as by festival committee members and at selected local businesses prior to the festival weekend. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Raffle proceeds will go to support local school art programs.
This year's raffle winner will receive the festival's 2010 original Signature Piece award-winner, "4 Tulips" by artist Irena Saparnis. This work of art is on display at Salute sponsor Community First Bank in Fairview Heights until the event weekend.
Kassly encourages residents to come out for a fun weekend at the festival.
"I love the 'Salute' as we affectionately call it," she said. "This is the 23rd year. That speaks volumes for our volunteers and sponsors.
Kassly continued, "There have been thousands of hours devoted to putting on a premier art event like the Midwest Salute to the Arts over the years. The all volunteer staff continues to work toward the common goal of presenting one of the premier art festivals in the country.
"The relaxed nature of the show allows for the enjoyment of all," she pointed out. "Besides viewing and purchasing art, there are musical groups to enjoy, a variety of food and drink available for purchase, children's activities... It's fun for the whole family."
Show hours are 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free and open to the general public.
Additional information, including a location map and parking directions, is available at www.midwestsalute.com.