Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hipsters & Handicrafts

This weekend marked the 44th annual Uptown Art Fair in my neck of the woods. The fair is a major event in our area because it brings a lot of art, people and drama to our cloistered little 'hood.

I've always had a love-hate relationship with the Art Fair, which is often ruled by whether or not I work in Uptown during the event. See, the fair brings hundreds of tourists who converge on a 4 square block neighborhood, take up all the parking, walk through the local shops without buying anything and generally leave their trash everywhere. When I've worked my various summer and grad school jobs in the neighborhood (at the bagel shop, movie theater, and furniture store, respectively), I've dreaded the arrival of the Art Fair. It always meant lots of snarky pushy customers without much reward. I was never able to tour the art fair, simply because I would be so fed up with the fair crowd after my shifts. One summer, I saw a little sticker on a phone booth that said, "It's not Uptown. It's Not Art. And It's Not Fair," and I felt vindicated.

Now, as a non-retail working resident of Uptown, I grudgingly admit that the sticker is mostly wrong. It is Uptown, a lot of it is beautiful art, and well, it's still not fair, but we can be big kids for a weekend. My husband and I toured the stalls this weekend and coveted some really unique and interesting art. Since our finances are tight right now (really, when are they not?), we couldn't manage the $100-3500 price tags for the pieces we really wanted. So instead, I'm going to offer links to the people I really like, in the hopes that someone out there can afford pretty art.

So here are my favorites, in no particular order:

Chicago native Gabe Lanza creates some really creepy(in a good way) acrylic paintings that are inspired by comic books and packaging from the '60's. He also had a blog, which I'm looking forward to exploring.

Mary Beth Shaw from Missouri does some really interesting collages using old black and white pictures. She also has a blog, which showcases her art and processes.

Ann Wood and Dean Lucker, St. Paul natives, do some beautiful and surreal mechanical pictures that you need to see to believe. Their site has video clips, so you can see the art in motion.

I remembered Wisconsite Marvin Hill's work from last year -- he does beautiful water-colored block prints that seem to center around his own understanding of mythology and dreams. I dig the themes and I also dig his technique.

Wendy Detrick Worhsam does these amazingly vibrant paintings of animals. I normally don't dig on animal art, too cutesy, but her pieces put the animals in semi-surreal settings and are just beautiful. I especially like her birds.

Kina Crow does some wonderfully weird sculpture that centers around these strange little bald figures. There was one at the fair that had three in a row inset into a picture frame, and below it was written "I wonder what they are looking at." She seems to have a very odd sense of humor, which I like.

Keith Grace's work didn't appeal to me at first. He uses a lot of bold colors and large designs that seemed good, but not all that intriguing, until I looked up close and realized that he had collaged typeset words into all of the images. Totally interesting and cool!

My husband really liked Chuck Wimmer's work, which focuses on really cartoonish paintings of animals. I had to peel Aaron away from the print with the monkeys. Maybe next year.

So if you're swimming in money, support these artists who come from far and wide to cause traffic jams in my neighborhood. All in all, it's worth the hassle for a weekend of art.


longvowels said...

I've only lived here 2 years and I hate the uptown art fair. I like the little one over by St Anthony main, much more agreeable.

Donetta said...

I think Wendy's work is my favorite.
I love the bold imagery.