Artz Smart: Woodland Arts Fair 08.16.2007

Artz Smart: Woodland Arts Fair 08.16.2007

View PDF Ace Woodland Arts Fair Coverstory 8.16.2007

Joe Artz has been a busy man this summer— charged with shepherding two of Lexington’s largest art projects—the return of outdoor theatre to the Arboretum (as a KCTC board member) and the annual Woodland Arts Fair, as Program Specialist for the Lexington Art League. He seems more
than a little humbled by the experience, asking “How did two of the largest, most popular, outdoor cultural events in central Kentucky get to be on my watch?”

Pleased with the community outpouring of support at both the Arboretum and for the new shifts in the landscape of the Woodland Arts Fair, he says, “It has been a very busy summer for me, but a rewarding one,” adding, “I have seen first hand the coming together of community.”

He’s excited about what’s new at this year’s fair, particularly “the outdoor art installations.” Lexingtonians who remember the success of HorseMania will likely support Artz’s faith in this arena. He says, “Ever since I started working for the Art League I wanted to do something with outdoor art. It’s a medium that we have not fully explored and the Fair offers the perfect opportunity and the perfect setting.” He’s proud of the “seven very unique installations” that will be seen on the Park grounds this year, adding, “all are made out of recycled materials.” He also hopes the Fair will benefit from a new layout, one with more vision toward flow and comfort.

“Like other high-ranking Fairs,” he says, “I wanted to create a more continuous flow of exhibitors.” And so, he says, “Gone are the days of congestion, confusion, visitors not being able to find artists and everybody cramped between the gazebo and the pool area.” He says the new layout highlights “the more beautiful side of Woodland Park…” The goal is to provide “an easy to understand layout for the visitor, and less ‘storefront to storefront’ competition for the artists,” adding “This shift also provides cooler, more heavily shaded areas in a much more lush and beautiful setting.” Marianna McDonald, of Lexington, does pastel drawings, and is a 20- year veteran of the Fair, only “missing a few during the 90s.”

She recalls, “I’ve been part of the arts community [here] since 1980. My first experience with Lexington Art League, was meeting Lillian Boyer, President of LAL, who was helping the UK gallery stage a ‘KY Women’s Art Show’ for Women’s History month — March. I exhibited with the fair in the 80s before it was juried and before we had tents. Ann Kromer and I sat through an entire Saturday in the pouring rain with plastic draped over our displays and us.”

She’s sanguine about the changes planned for this year, saying, “The new layout may or may not work depending on how hot the weather may be. If it’s as beastly hot as last year’s fair the patrons may tire and not want to walk the entire length. I, personally, liked the meandering look of the previous layout, but the patrons will decide.” (She adds her booth is “at the very end on the Kentucky Avenue side.”)

Contemporary jeweler Jennifer McLamb has been exhibiting at Woodland Arts Fair since 2003 and says, “I believe the quality of the artwork has continued to improve as well as the layout of the fair itself.” She’s been involved in Lexington’s arts community since she began Beaded Bliss in 2000, and over the past eight years has served with the Kentucky Guild, the Lexington Art League, and has been active with the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program. She describes her work as utilizing “ancient techniques of beadweaving that have been used by many cultures as a form of prayer and spiritual practice, with glass and fine silver focal pieces that I have created from high-tech materials. Each piece of jewelry is a signed piece of wearable art that marries modern and ancient cultures.” She adds, “My work is not simply hand assembled or strung components manufactured by a corporation, but individually hand-crafted jewelry incorporating components I have made myself.”

Lexington’s Keith Chambers makes “wooden gear clocks. These clocks are powered by an electric motor and are accurate to within 1 second a month” and this will be his fourth year at Woodland Arts Fair. He
says, “The fair has grown from 160 to 200 artists. I do a lot of shows in Kentucky and Ohio; this show has artists I don’t usually see in the Central Kentucky area. This gives this show a unique sample of work we don’t see in the bluegrass region.”

Joyce Jackson is a Lexington fiber artist, who says of the work she’s presenting at the Fair, “every item is made of 100 percent Alpaca and made here by me and my helpers.” She and her husband moved here in
1986 with from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and she “began craft and design work in 1995 and went full-time in 2001.”

She says she continues “to grow, try new ideas, patterns and methods of using alpaca fiber.” She “began the Fair in 1998 with Alpaca Hats and scarves and have improved, changed and tried to keep up with the latest trends in garments. She’s been pleased with the Fair’s evolution over the years and characterizes the new layout as “very well thought out and organized.”

At the University of South Carolina, Lexington artist Geoffrey Harris “was a business major earning degrees in Management and Management Science. Within three weeks of graduation in 1985, I was working in Detroit, Michigan for General Motors. Employed by Electronic Data Systems (EDS), I worked there five years as a Software Systems Engineer before returning south to become a Senior Consultant with Price Waterhouse in Charlotte, North Carolina.”

He says, “On February 1, 1992 I quit my corporate career to fulfill my dream of becoming an Artist.” And today he lives in Lexington and exhibits “at juried art festivals throughout the United States.”

He creates “original acrylic paintings on cradled masonite panels. A reddish gold under color is applied to the panel. The image is painted on top of the under color. Sandpaper is then used to distress the painted surface creating an antique finish.” “My original acrylic paintings are inspired by art styles and themes from the past. My artwork is influenced by vintage posters, antique advertising, art deco graphics, old wind-up tin toys, pinball machines, neon signs, juke boxes, game boards, and more.” For retro/vintage enthusiasts, he says, “My goal is to mix all of these styles, add my own artistic talent, and create truly unique retro designs.”

The bluegrass is a community that Art League Program Specialist Joe Artz has faith in, saying, “There is renewed interest in the arts here in Lexington —you can feel it. Not just the visual arts, but the performing arts as well. I feel blessed to contribute in my own small way to the cultural landscape of this wonderful city we all call home.”

Although the corn-shuck dolls and crocheted toilet paper cozies of years ago seem mercifully long-gone from the Woodland Arts Fair (and the jurying grows more rigorous by the year), Artz happily admits with only minimal prodding that Yes, indeed, the funnel cakes will be back (to the joy of art lovers everywhere). He laughs, “I ain’t that upscale…of course there will be funnel cakes.”

God love ‘im.


Arts Fair Shuttle
It’s unlikely you will find a parking
space near Woodland Park this Saturday or
Sunday. You can park FREE at American
Founders Bank’s
corner of
Rose St. and E. Main St.), and in Transit
Center parking garage (entrance from High
St., between outlets of Lexington Ave. and
Martin Luther King Blvd.) and catch a FREE
shuttle, from those parking lots, courtesy
LFUCG Div. of Parks and Recreation.
Shuttles circulate approximately every 10 –
15 minutes. Accessible shuttle for disabled
persons available.