Patty Boyer lives in a colorful world.
Some time ago, the Lawrence artist went snorkeling in Hawaii, and she vividly recalls the incredible hues of the underwater wildlife.
"Raspberry coral and yellow eels with black polka dots - I mean it was just pretty phenomenal," she says.
Now Boyer infuses her artwork with the wonders of the ocean, creating ceramic sea creatures that remind her of the ones with which she swam. Her combination of ceramics and painting - some people call it Patty's Reef - will be on display today at the 45th annual Art in the Park, sponsored by the Lawrence Art Guild at South Park.
Boyer is the featured artist at this year's festival, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a record 148 exhibitors. It's the longest-running art fair in Kansas.
The popular attraction features artists working in everything from oil painting to photography and jewelry to turned wooden bowls. Boyer uses slabs of rolled clay to create fish, eels and even sharks. She paints them with acrylics and glazes them with clear polyurethane. She'll use anything she can get her hands on.
"I can basically do whatever I want. Besides technique, whatever I come up with works," says Boyer, a member of the guild since 1989. "None of the images get old. I don't have to make the same thing over and over again. Sure, maybe I make a lot of fish, but I never make the same fish twice."
Jen Unekis, past president of the guild and a member since 1989, is going through an art transition. She'll be unveiling her new direction at this year's Art in the Park.
"Mixed media, found object, collage and paint - that would probably be the best way to describe it," Unekis says.
Her creative cycle begins with an item. Unekis adds paint and passion to finish a piece that tells a story.
"I have this attraction to basic everyday objects," she says. "I'll find something that will inspire me to create a piece around it."
The secret to Unekis' art, she says, is delay.
"I am a procrastinating artist," Unekis says. "You can't push something out until it's ready to go, but at the same time it's really kind of nice to have that push. I kind of enjoy working that way."
Unekis also makes art her day job as the owner of a decorative painting business. She says painting interiors and decorative faux finishes helps her practice.
"That interest in paint has probably been one of the things that sort of has inspired me to where my work sort of evolved into being paint-driven," she says.
Although she's looking forward to seeing old and new faces, Unekis is most anxious to see reactions to her new art, which ranges in price from $50 to $350.
The knitting kid
She named it "Chinese Food."
In fact, Teija Cheung names every scarf she creates.
"Whatever the scarf reminds me of, or maybe where I am while knitting the scarf or an event that happens during my life," says Cheung of attaching monikers to her work.
Cheung, a Kansas University sophomore, will be making her second appearance at Art in the Park.
"I'm just hoping that people are still enjoying my things," she says. "They've enjoyed them in the past."
Cheung learned how to knit from her mother around age 6. Today she shares her talent with others.
When Cheung isn't knitting, she's attending classes, working as a barista, volunteering, traveling or teaching classes at the Yarn Barn, 930 Mass. This year, Cheung will display nearly 70 scarves, ranging in price from $45 to $90. Each takes an average of four to 12 hours to complete. The time commitment doesn't phase Cheung.
"If you like what you're doing, you should do it no matter what," she says. "And if you're good at it, you should never give it up. Even if you're not good at it, you should still never give it up."
In the fold
Joel Cooper has worked in the acquisitions department at KU's Watson Library for three years. When he's not acquiring books, he's creating intricate origami.
"It's a good job, but there's not very much origami involved," Cooper says. "Books are a passion, too, but there's not a lot of ways to make money out of just liking books."
Cooper has practiced traditional origami since he was a kid, but the past five years have been an experiment in the rare workings of tessellation origami.
The complex method is nontraditional and nonrepresentative, unlike mainstream origami. Instead, it's based on the geometric plane. Many of the pieces are designed flat and appear puzzling to the eye.
Cooper's fixation with the art form began when he purchased a computer.
"One of the first things I found when I went online are sites where people were talking about origami tessellation," he says. "The only way you could find out about it was online, and it's still really the only place you'll be able to find it."
During the 2003 Lawrence ArtWalk, Cooper displayed oil paintings, charcoal drawings and a few origami pieces. He says onlookers were quite curious about his innovative approach to paper folding. Lately he's been using the technique to create three-dimensional masks.
"I don't necessarily expect people to buy any of this stuff, but I want people to see it," Cooper says of his work, which runs $50 to $250. "I expect it'll still be very novel to a lot of people, and I want people to see some of the unexpected things you can do. It's just paper, folded, but there's so much you can get out it."