Friday, September 17, 2010

Hidden River Art Festival in Brookfield, WI

I am so excited to get to the weekend. I have decided to devote my weekend to art.  It is challenging to be a part-time artist, especially once that part-timer goes back to full time teaching duties.  The beginning of the school year is extremely challenging as we retrain and re-tool our efforts to become even better educators.  Each year I have a slightly new or changed teaching assignment and by mid-to-late September I am exhausted from my 12 -14 hour days spent trying to make everything perfect and functioning for my classes. We are usually also asked by the administration to take on one or two new initiatives as well.  This year's focus is on literacy across all curricular areas including hands on subjects like art.  Trying to creatively incorporate reading and writing into a hands-on-make-art-class has been especially challenging and so the long hours and lack of personal time.   Usually the cycle ends with a  weekend like this where as the Italians say: "basta", enough....I've had it.  Time for some me time.  So this weekend I am devoting to art.

This will mark the start of the Hidden River Art Festival in Brookfield.  It is at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center there.  I feel especially proud of this  festival because I used to be a volunteer at the center when they were in their formative stages.  One of the things we worked to do was make a stronger link to the Visual Arts community.  The center had a lot of performing arts opportunities, but not nearly as many visual arts opps, so this festival is just one of the ways they've connected and reached out.  The list of artists who will be exhibiting is quite fabulous.  See the link below.  Many are local Wisconsin artists.  Some are quite young and that inspires me greatly.  I tell my students about their youth and say " this could be some of you in just a few years."  I checked out the list of exhibitors and many are the same as year's past.  Rather think "oh it will be the same show" I am looking forward to renewing acquaintances.

Talking and getting to know the artists is just one of the many pleasures of the festival.  There is a casual atmosphere in what I hope will be warm, golden September sunshine.  The festival highlights some other gems besides art.  Many local eateries offer lunch and snacks including coffee and cookies and many other goodies.  There is also a silent auction of works of art that have been donated by many of the exhibit participants.  Then of course there is the center itself.  If you've never been, you should go.  It is a beautiful facility that celebrates the natural wildness of the surrounding fields and wetlands.  The soaring fireplace, sculpted tree trunk stools outside, the sculptures in front and even the ceramic pieces in the bathroom all exude a creative spirit that celebrates the arts and the natural world.  Then there is the natural world itself.  Strolling about the tented grounds of the Wilson Center for the exhibit you may forget to look at all the natural beauty around you.  This is the area where I usually go on my bike rides.  It is splendid, adrift with wildflowers, hues of violet and gold, flitting butterflies and tiny yellow canaries.  The winding Fox River and the twisted trees and grasses all make for an inspiring setting to enjoy art.

Lastly, there are the artists.  As I mentioned it is really great to chat with them and enjoy their works.  Two of my favorites are:  Joann Engelhart and Katie Musolff.  There is great variety in the show with painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelers and fiber artists.  I had never met Joann Engelhart before and last year I started talking to her and we quite literally chatted for almost 2 hours.  She is a wonderful woman and a very inspiring artist.  Her story is inspiring too.  She went back to school to get her MFA late in life.  She teaches part-time at UW-Milwaukee and is a great example that it is never to late to follow your passion.  Joann   will also have a solo exhibit later this year at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center.  Katie is one of the young artists who is amazing, friendly talented and really just so good at the paintings she produces.  I met her while taking a watercolor class a few years back.  At that time she was a student at MIAD, but now she is a successful fine artist. 

Make sure you make time to get to the exhibit.  Here is a list of all the artists participating.  Hope to see you there.