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A feast for the arts

August 20, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — There were plenty of friendly faces among artists and art lovers alike at the 37th annual Lubeznik Arts Festival Saturday. The event, with more than 80 contemporary artists, continued Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The show serves as a public outreach event, helping to make art more accessible to those who might not visit the art galleries at Lubeznik Center for the Arts, 101 W. 2nd St. All proceeds go toward artistic and educational programs the center provides year-round.

This year at the show visitors could also view the center’s exhibit, “Andy Warhol: Icon & Influence” with 50 pieces of the artist’s work. This included a substantial collection of black and white photographs, Polaroids and large color screen prints.

“People can take a break and take in some internationally recognized artwork,” said Amy Davis Navardauskas, marketing director for the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

Another new addition to the show was a Photo Scavenger Hunt for kids. Using a cellphone camera, families were encouraged to search and photograph selected items and then show their photos at the designated booth for a small prize.

“It’s a simple way to get families circulating throughout the festival and gallery,” said Hannah Hammond-Hagman, education director for the center.

Joan Crumbiss and her friend, Deb Markunas, who were both from Michigan City, were pleased with what they found at the Lubeznik Arts Festival as they carried out their traditional annual visit to the show.

“We’ve been to previous art festivals here and know they have quality artists,” said Markunas. She purchased a print of beach driftwood, a wind chime, a coaster and metal lawn art.

“I buy something from them every year,” she said about the handcrafted metal butterfly she purchased at R. Dean & Gloria Barkley’s booth. “It’s solar-powered. That’s my draw. My whole yard lights up.”

In addition to a stain-glassed lantern, Crumbiss purchased two lake prints from Timothy Johnson, who specializes in travel and nature photography and resides in West Chester, Illinois.

“Your stuff is spectacular,” said Samantha Norton of Miller Beach as she perused Johnson booth and especially admired a photograph of the Eiffel Tower with its reflection captured in the foreground marble. “It’s not doctored – it’s real.”

After retiring from commercial photography after 25 years, Johnson became involved in the fine arts 12 years ago.

“I sold the company, started traveling and doing this,” he said. “We make it a point to travel to take photos.”

Just recently, he and his wife have been on trips to Juno, Alaska and Machu Picchu, Peru. His favorite places to photograph are ocean views in Washington and Oregon as well as Lake Michigan shots.

Michigan City Resident Frank Flanagan and Jeannine King of Crown Point were drawn to the unique gourd vessels at Bonita Miner’s Simple Gourdgeous booth. King eventually purchased her favorite artwork based on its beautiful color and shading, but admitted choosing what she liked best was “one of the hardest things I had to do — I love it.” The two had been to the Lubeznik Arts Festival several times before.

Miner explained that she owned a custom framing shop/gallery for 13 years before it was destroyed by an arson fire in 2006. A few years later as she was looking for a new endeavor, a friend found a gourd in a garage sale. When he brought it to his wife, she wasn’t interested in the “ugly” item and it ended up in Miner’s hands.

“I ended up having fun with it and doing this,” she went on.

Miner said her gourds adorned with three-dimensional art, such as leaves, are most popular among her customers. She uses UV-resistant ink, sews any beadwork into the gourd and inlays any stonework into her pieces. Carvings into the gourd are accomplished with an X-Acto knife and Dremel tool. A resident of West Branch, Michigan, Miner has participated in several festivals in Michigan. This was the first year she’d ventured away from her home state and exhibited in Ohio, Missouri, and Indiana including Michigan City for the first time.

This year the Lubeznik Arts Festival expanded from 70 to 83 booths. At this juried show, the exhibiting artists must apply and be approved based on the quality of their work.

“It’s fabulous,” Miner said about her first experience at the Lubeznik Arts Festival. “Coming in and setting up was like clockwork. I would come back in a heartbeat to this show. They are very conscious of the artists. We’re a team – they have it right on.”

Another new booth to the show this year was Pieces of Jayde from Chesterton, though Artist Jayde McAloon has taught wire-wrapping classes at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

She described her hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind stone jewelry made with metals and minerals, and decorated with leaves and feathers, as soulful adornment. In addition to wire-wrapping, she uses electroforming. As explained on a card in her booth, this is “the process of forming a metal deposit of copper onto an item, like a stone, honeycomb or feather, using chemistry and electricity. Basically a thick ‘skin’ of metal is built up, leaving the original item intact. Each piece is unique – no two ever come out the same!”

“I’m known for helping match people with metaphysical elements of stones as a tool for wellness,” McAloon said.

BlackTree Studio Pottery, with contemporary sculptured and functional pottery, was another new booth this year at the show.

“Art in your daily life is our motto,” explained Artist Steven Skinner, whose professional academic training is in Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Customers could choose from the stoneware bowl carefully built from the plaster mold of a watermelon, a crucible perfect for baking bread, jugs or teapots crafted from plaster molds of garden rocks, or the Stoneware Grand Bowl, Kettle Bowl and more.

“Nature has the best forms so why not use them?” Skinner said.

Returning this year was Jill Dunn, a jewelry artist out of Kokomo, with her hand-made earrings, necklaces and bracelets. She retired July 2 as the CEO of a not-for-profit for special needs children and adults and turned her hobby into a retirement business. In 2015. The Lubeznik Arts Festival was her seventh show this summer.

“The weather is perfect. This is one of the friendliest groups of people to work with,” said her husband, Craig Dunn. “We had a very good show here last year.”

Dunn uses brass, copper and plenty of stone to make her original designs. Except for the sterling silver chains, all parts, including earring hooks, are hand-made. She said she “loves color and texture,” uses a lot of Patina metals, and includes etching on many of her jewelry.

“I try to appeal to all age groups,” she said, adding that she will offer rings next season too.

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