Many years ago the Springfield Park Board granted permission to the Southwest Missouri Art and Craft Guild to put on a small art and crafts festival in Sequiota Park in southeast Springfield. 23 years later, Art in the Park, the Guild's annual fine art and contemporary craft show and sale the second weekend of October, now hosts artists from all over the country—this year Alabama, Oklahoma and Kansas are represented in addition to Missouri and Arkansas artists and crafters. It's now a juried fine art/fine craft festival--artists submit pictures of their work along with a brief description of their craft. A panel of judges goes through the applications and picks the best. This year's Art in the Park is Saturday and Sunday Oct. 14 and 15 in Sequiota Park, 3500 S. Lone Pine from 10:00am to 4:30pm both days. Admission is free and open to the public, with free parking.
Jewelry artist Cathy Evans of “Big Nose Creations” has coordinated the annual show and sale since 1999, and every time she comes to the KSMU studios to talk about the new “Art in the Park,” we always have to discuss the weather. This year attendees will get a taste of both summer, on Saturday, with temperatures in the upper 80s, and autumn on Sunday, when it’s expected to be much cooler.
There are 40 artists participating this year. “We have almost ten new artists this year,” says Cathy Evans. “So it’s a little bit bigger show. It’s a really well-balanced group of artists. “And we have eight 2-dimensional artists this year. I think that’s more than we’ve ever had.” Considering the group’s name, “Art and Craft Guild,” it’s to be expected that three-dimensional pieces would outnumber paintings. But, while the Art and Craft Guild was founded by “three potters and a jeweler”, the group has always been about “fine craft,” says Cathy Evans, “and fine art actually does encompass 3-D and 2-D. We have sculpture—we have some amazing sculpture artists. But we hadn’t had people doing flat work.” There are two printmakers this year, as well as pastels, three photographers, They also feature jewelry—including glass jewelry, pottery, mixed media, basketry, fibre, blown and fused glass, woodworking, “and an amazing metalworker, who works primarily in copper. So there’s a huge variety of things if you want to get a jump start on your holiday shopping, and get things that are really unique,” adds Evans. She emphasizes that this is not just a show, but a sale. All the items you’ll see on display will be available for sale. “The purpose of the Guild,” according to Cathy Evans,” is to support the working artist. That’s why it was started. Everybody who is showing (at Art in the Park) is either a full-time or part-time artist. Many of them are full-time—that’s all they do. So it isn’t ‘hobbies,’ and the work shows that it’s not a hobby--it’s serious work.”
Kids are welcome to come to the show. In addition to the attractions of Sequiota Park itself, the artwork and craft are always fascinating for children, and, says Cathy Evans, “The People’s Choice Award is always good for kids. They may not find anything that’s necessarily developed for kids—although there are some whimsical objects—but they can vote on their favorite booth.
The artists on hand during the two days of the show relish the opportunity to talk to visitors; often, says Cathy Evans, the interactions at Art in the Park lead to long-term relationships. “Artists develop what we call ‘custo-friends,’ and they’re customers who, through the years, have become friends, and they look forward to seeing us. We may only see them at shows, but it’s so much fun to visit with them and show them your new work. And that’s one thing that’s wonderful about Art in the Park. It hasn’t grown so big—nor will it—that you can’t still visit with people and find out how they create the work.”
The juried aspect of the show adds to its professionalism. “It’s juried by people who have worked in the business for years. They are used to what these kinds of shows require, and what the customers have come to expect.”
Parking in the vicinity of Sequiota Park has been an issue in previous years, but this year Conco has donated the use of their parking lot across the street from the park, at no charge. “So hopefully you won’t have to park two miles away! We’re very grateful for their generosity. And there will be attendants to show you where to go.”
The Guild is always interested in acquiring new members, and their board of directors has been “tweaking” the group’s by-laws. They now say the group is “composed of people with a common interest in the advancement of art and fine craft, and anyone wishing to support this cause is welcome to join.” In other words, non-artists are now included in addition to the working artists/crafters who have always been the backbone of the Art and Craft Guild. And Cathy Evans emphasizes the quality of educational programs the group offers at their regular meetings—“a lot of really nice workshops with guest speakers.”
For information visit www.artcraftguild.org/art-in-the-park/ or call Sherry Haney at 848-0854.