June 15-17, 2012                                                              http://lfoa.mam.org/

Entrance to the Lakefront Festival of Arts – Doesn’t look like many people are there? They are all inside!

Every year in June, for one short weekend, the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum are transformed into a celebration of art: visual and plastic arts, dance, and music.  Stretching along the Cadahy Gardens outside the Quadracci Pavillion (designed by Santiago Calatrava), and beneath the wing sweep of the Burke Brise Soleil, more than 170 artists and artisans from all over the country display their work for sale.

Inside the massive tents, the going is slow, as the crowd flows from booth to booth in an highly erratic fashion that puts my type A personality into overdrive, looking for openings.  I am not a crowds person and today was a bit of a challenge because of a downpour that started just as we arrived, walking from our place on the river.  Obviously, no one wanted to be outside during the rain.  Then, when the sun came back out, everybody rushed outside because that’s where the food and drink are, and it was getting on towards one.  Don’t try to keep a Wisconsonian from his or her food at the appointed hour! Or a hungry Puerto Rican for that matter – mine went out and ate in the rain.

Families with small children have an entire area dedicated to keeping little ones entertained.  There are also shows outside – music and dance especially, but the fiber artists get a fashion show for their work too.

In the middle are the two pieces I bought at the Lakefront Festival of Arts. To the left is a marble sculpture by my father, George Parker, and to the right is one of the vases I bought at Ephraim Pottery (mentioned in an earlier post).

It is the art fair that draws me back each year.  Everything you expect to find, you find:  ceramics, wood, sculpture, glass, prints, photography, jewelry and fiber arts, both wearable and not.  Talent abounds; Creativity, ditto.  I paid close attention to the fine art photographers and even bought a print.  Talking to the photographer, he shared with me all his techniques for making these gorgeous prints of flowers.  I am definitely going to try them this week while I am “Up North.” (The print is of a milkweed pod, one of my favorite things for my whole life.)

I also bought an engraving of an owl, reduced to a feather, from an artist making a statement about the animals (especially birds) that have disappeared or are disappearing from our planet.  It’s pretty strong message for someone just looking for something pretty to decorate with, but the prints were very compelling and the message delivered in an extremely creative manner.

The third piece we bought was a ceramic vase.  I am not sure I can describe it (like the bottom two-thirds of a Z?), so I will try to include a photo.  I liked it not only for its unusualness, but because it was perfect for displaying a single or pair of stems – no bouquet needed.

This is the vase “sans fleurs.” See the two rectangular holes in the bottom arm? There are two more in the top (side you can’t see) that go all the way through. The stem stands in the water at the bottom and then extends diagonally through the top portion.

If you are in or around Milwaukee this weekend, try to take in the Festival.  It is a lot of fun, a visual treat for the eyes and power fuel for the creative!

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