A variety of arts festivals celebrate the Lawrence area's creative talent.
In 1992, a Lawrence Arts Center survey estimated that more than 900 writers and visual and performing artists lived and worked in Lawrence.
This creativity is well-represented in the city's annual art festivals. The Lawrence Art Walk, Harvest of Arts, Art in the Park and the Holiday Art Fair all reaffirm art's presence in the community.
A walk of artists
"Art in the community" will be the theme at the fifth annual Lawrence ArtWalk from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 23 and from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 24.
Formerly an event in which visitors took self-guided tours of downtown exhibits, the Lawrence ArtWalk now includes city-wide displays of paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed media, ceramics, hand-blown glass, metalwork and other types of artwork. This year, the ArtWalk will include more than 50 artists exhibiting at studios, workshops and galleries.
John Wysocki, the ArtWalk's organizer and a wedding/fine art photographer, said that artists, studio owners and university students participated last year. The event allows the public to meet artists, see demonstrations and purchase art.
Some exhibitors this year are painters Celia Smith and Jewell Willhite, and Bob Gent, owner of Bob Gent Glassworks. The youngest participant last year was Lynette Michelle Romine, a KU student and free-lance photographer.
The guide map, which lists exhibit locations, has been the main information source for ArtWalk goers. This year, planners hope to create a more comprehensive guide, as well as make posters and postcards available to attendants, Wysocki said.
Participation is open to any artist who pays the registration fee and has a Lawrence address for his or her residence or studio. The fact that work is not screened beforehand, is juried or has to fit a theme allows a broad participation.
"You can do it as you wish, and can control the weekend's events as you wish," Wysocki said. "For the cost of registering, you get a lot of benefits."
For more information, call Wysocki, 865-4254, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1990, Ardys Ramberg had an idea to draw Lawrence's disparate artistic communities together for a combined arts celebration.
"At the time it seemed that art in town had been fragmented," Ramberg said. "It never coalesced."
With her vision for a grand festival, Ramberg began attending meetings for already-existing arts organizations. When one group decided to discontinue its event plans, Ramberg joined with Downtown Lawrence Inc.'s Lisa Blair and Lawrence Alliance's Ann Weick to develop her idea, and the Harvest of Arts was born in 1992.
Now in its eighth year, the Harvest of Arts festival results from combined efforts of business sponsors and many unpaid volunteers, who coordinate events featuring more than 100 musicians, dancers, poets, actors, storytellers and visual artists.
The eight-day festival, which includes free events in downtown locations, will be held Sept. 26 through Oct. 3.
Lissa Probus, one of the festival's coordinators, said highlights this year will include a film festival featuring short films and videos made by area filmmakers. Among the new events are an experimental jazz performance, a hip-hop skate demonstration and a singer-songwriter's showcase with an open mike.
No events are juried.
"We're more about bringing out new creativity than refining the market," Probus said.
Event calendars with location details will be available at downtown businesses. For more information, contact Lissa Probus, 749-0470, or Janet Cinelli, 749-2787.
The dynamic quality that events such as Harvest of Arts bring to Lawrence is matched by long-standing festivals. Next May, Art in the Park will celebrate its 39th anniversary in South Park.
Art in the Park regularly draws more than 70 artists, who exhibit in the juried show. In past years, artists have displayed paintings, textiles, pottery, ceramics, woodworking and jewelry, said Jennifer Rinehart-Unekis, co-president of the Lawrence Art Guild, which sponsors the show.
To participate, artists must be 18 or older and must display original work, she said.
The festive atmosphere is heightened by live musical performances in the park's gazebo, concessions and children's activities. The most recent festival featured a children's petting zoo and a drawing station for kids.
The event draws thousands of visitors each May.
"It's a good opportunity for the people of Lawrence to meet the artists, and for the artists to meet people who have possibly purchased their work in galleries," Rinehart-Unekis said. "The artists also get a lot of good feedback."
Contact Rinehart-Unekis at 865-5483 for more information about Art in the Park.
Although most of Lawrence's art festivals take place during the summer and autumn, the Holiday Art Fair ensures that winter is not artfully quiet.
The Holiday Art Fair has occurred the same day as Lawrence's Christmas Parade for the past two years. Last December, the juried show at the Lawrence Arts Center featured more than 30 regional artists, said Karla Nathan, co-president of the Lawrence Art Guild, the event's sponsor.
Nathan, a watercolorist and mural painter who helped organize the show's displays last year, said the show often includes floral arrangements, paintings, jewelry, metalworking, watercolors and other items.
Many items, she said, make good holiday gifts.
Anyone who attends is invited to a wine-and-cheese reception with the artists. In addition, live musical performances and a fund-raising bake sale by a community organization all reflect the festive atmosphere. Karen Pendleton, a Lawrence weaver, creates the greenery and wreaths that are displayed.
"We take up the whole building," Nathan said. "The arts center does their big yearly cleaning and gets the place all spiffed up before the show."
For more information, contact the Lawrence Arts Center, 843-ARTS.
-- Teresa Heinz is a part-time writer for the Journal-World. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.