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Art colony pops up at Fountain Square

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Two hundred artists from all over the country are showing off the full spectrum of the fine arts to downtown Evanston at the Fountain Square Art Festival this weekend.

Creators from 30 different states showcased paintings, jewelry, handmade clothes and sculpture at the 31st annual event held by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. A panel of professional artists selected the best out of a pool of 500 applicants.

Robinson Scott came from Minnesota where he’s formed more than 30,000 pieces over the past 34 years as a professional glassblower.

Scott said it’s difficult for him to choose a favorite piece because it’s more about the process than the product. "Being able to start with nothing but a pile of molten glass," he said. "That’s what is most exciting for me."

Michel Delgado, a Senegalese artist currently living in Key West, Fla., said his process often leads him to surprising places.

The painter, who mixes his paints with everyday objects such as paper bags and bottle caps, explores darker themes. One of his paintings, named "My father and I in the same place," depicts two African American men in prison uniforms. "I get to discover a part of my inner world that I don’t get to see until it comes out on my wood or canvas," Delgado said.

Several artists said their work began as a hobby and slowly morphed into a profession.

Carl Richardson, a jeweler from Atlanta, says he always loved collecting natural stones and made the occasional gift for a friend but didn’t begin making jewelry full-time until he was laid off from his job as an Internet consultant.

Richardson, who uses stones like onyx and turquoise in his copper and silver pieces, said it’s been "a great crowd" at the fair so far. "They ask good questions, show a lot of interest," he said. "I could talk about what I do all day."

Seated on a stool outside his booth filled with 3-D art, Leif Holland said he also dove into art to break away from a past profession. "I wanted to get out of the restaurant business," said the Seattle artist.

Holland frames branches and plants because he "wasn’t satisfied with the authenticity of the prints."

In a different area of the fair, Linda Siegfried and her niece Jennie Goodman talked with customers about their brightly-colored knit scarves, shawls and accessories. They began their business eight years ago, when Goodman married into the family.

Siegfried said she’s influenced by Southwestern art, as she gestures toward a deep red wrap with a small cactus detail. Siegfried and Goodman weave beads and charms into their original designs as well. "We wanted to do art to wear," Siegfried said.

Shoppers at the fair found refuge from the sun under large umbrellas while listening to a jazz band playing on the corner of Sherman Avenue and Davis Street.

And they sipped raspberry lemonade and licked soft-serve ice cream cones as they wandered throughout the mass of white tents showcasing everything from six-foot wood and metal sculptures to clay shot glasses.

Maryland resident Gretchen Matlock said she was enjoying the sunny day and the large variety in the artwork. "It’s very diverse," Matlock said as she perused some paintings. "There are a lot of interesting things from very far away places."

The Fountain Square Art Festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

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