Nov
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2018
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From the Print
Julie Phipps, left, showcased her leaves cast in cement and Tara Anderson, right, worked recently on her wheel-thrown pottery at her home studio. The two local artists are among the 100 who will sell their wares at the 35th annual Art on the Lawn on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside at Mills Lawn Elementary School.  (photo by Carla Steiger (left), submitted photo)

Julie Phipps, left, showcased her leaves cast in cement and Tara Anderson, right, worked recently on her wheel-thrown pottery at her home studio. The two local artists are among the 100 who will sell their wares at the 35th annual Art on the Lawn on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside at Mills Lawn Elementary School. (photo by Carla Steiger (left), submitted photo)

35th annual ‘Art on the Lawn’ for art near and far

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Local fiber artist and quilter Pam Geisel will sell her work at this year’s Art on the Lawn, the 35th annual. (photo by Carla Steiger)

Local fiber artist and quilter Pam Geisel will sell her work at this year’s Art on the Lawn, the 35th annual. (photo by Carla Steiger)

By Carla Steiger

Pam Geisel’s striking quilts, Julie Phipps’ cement-casted leaves and Tara Anderson’s intentionally cracked pottery are some of the unique artwork on offer at this year’s Art on the Lawn.

The show, which is in its 35th year, will be Saturday, Aug. 11, on the lawn of Mills Lawn Elementary School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is run by Village Artisans.

Villagers Geisel, Phipps and Anderson are among the 100 artists at this year’s event, which features both veteran artists who have been attending art and craft fairs for years and emerging artists for whom this is their first show.

According to Pam Geisel, a fiber artist and quilter, the group of artists includes about a dozen from Yellow Springs and the Miami Valley along with participants from Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and North Carolina.

About 25 to 30 percent of the exhibitors sell jewelry. Other categories include photography, ceramics, wood, metal, painting, drawing and mixed media. There will also be gourd art, mosaics, lawn sculpture and upcycled items.

In addition to a variety of food vendors, live music will be playing throughout the event. The musicians, many of whom are from Yellow Springs, will perform Celtic, folk and pop music.

Happily for the vendors who return year after year, their customers routinely return as well, according to Geisel, who appreciates the annual show.

“I like the show. It’s laid back, and I know a lot of people that come to the show,” Geisel said.

‘Painting with fabric’
It’s Geisel’s fifth year doing the show, and her 18th as a professional artist.

Geisel, who is primarily self-taught, does a range of different images and appreciates the hands-on nature of the fiber medium.

“I am a very tactile person. When you are quilting, you are really hands on and touching the fabric all the time,” she said.

Geisel views her quilting as making paintings with fabric. She feels the colors are more vibrant than what she could obtain with paint. Her subject matter includes landscapes, scenes from Yellow Springs, and abstracts with simple shapes like squares and triangles. She credits her background as a graphic designer giving her an edge in creating striking graphic images.

As well as doing local venues, Geisel’s work has appeared in nationally important shows. Her “Time Lapse Moon Rise” quilt is appearing this summer in the National Quilt Museum’s exhibition of art quilts that were made to celebrate the July 20, 1969, American landing on the moon of Apollo XI. Her work also appeared in the Artist as Quilt Maker XVI in Oberlin, Ohio, in 2014 and in the exhibition that year of Fantastic Fibers in Paducah, Ky.

Crafting leaves of concrete
Like Geisel, Yellow Springs artist Julie Phipps is self-taught.

Long artmaking tables are front and center in the great room of her house. There, she casts leaves with cement, a process that fascinated her.

“I saw a fountain with a concrete leaf, was fascinated by it and wanted to do it,” she said. “Every leaf that I cast is the exact reproduction of the leaf.”

The leaves vary in size from a few inches to over 4 feet across, and are painted when dry. They can grace a garden or look beautiful just hung on a wall. Now every outing is a treasure-hunting opportunity in the natural world.

“When I walk the dog, I am always looking for interesting leaves,” she said.

Phipps began her interest in art by painting tree murals throughout her former home in Miamisburg. Using Youtube videos as a guide, Phipps has learned how to make a range of things such as jewelry, acrylic flow paintings and cast cement leaves, which will be for sale in her booth at the fair.

Phipps is also a full-time occupational therapist specializing in helping special needs children, and is employed by the Greene County Educational Center. However, after work and in the summer, she is filled with the joy of making things and rushes home to peel off her work clothes and dive into her art.

Phipp’s acrylic flow paintings are visually dramatic images that have a variegated and marbleized surface. Another addition to her portfolio are mixed media collages with painting and pebbles on fence boards, which she salvaged from her yard as her fence was repaired. These are displayed at the Spirits of Yellow Springs Distillery, which also showcases her jewelry. At Art on the Lawn, this emerging artist will also offer the opportunity for customers to request custom work. Phipps is thrilled about the show which she hopes will be the first of many.

Pottery broken but not useless
Unlike Phipps and Geisel, ceramicist Tara Anderson knew that she wanted to become an artist as a child growing up in Kentucky and was mentored by professional artist Doris Thurber, a friend of the family. After a stint at Antioch College, she finished her art degree at Ohio University. It was there that she learned wheel-throwing, which is the basis of her work.

Each piece is unique and one-of-a- kind, according to Anderson.

“I would describe my work as wheel-thrown, altered sculptural pottery,” she explained. She makes bowls, plates, and teapots using conventional pottery methods and then usually carves and cuts them before they dry. In the process they become useless as utilitarian dining devices. She intentionally adds cracks and holes to make them look broken and enhances them with wire and hardware after they are glazed and fired.

“While they may not be useful in the kitchen or dining room, they stand out as unusual works of art,” she said of her work.

This way of working shaped her favorite body of work that she calls “Das Minderwertig.”
It is inspired by one of her children, a son with Down syndrome.

According to her website, odd.pottery.etsy.com, Minderwertig means “shoddy or inferior” in German. During WWII, the mentally disabled were the first group of people to be considered “Das Minderwertig,” or inferior, and were executed by the Nazis.

“My son would have been on that list,” Anderson said.

What Anderson learned from having a son with Down syndrome, and meeting other people with disabilities, is that there is the potential for beauty and worth in every person. She feels that her son has changed her family’s life in positive and wonderful ways no one else could have, “not in spite of Down syndrome, but because of it,” she said.

Anderson, who is now a member of Village Artisans, is looking forward to this Saturday’s show, her third time at Art on the Lawn.

“It’s my favorite show to do by far, she said. “Mills Lawn is fantastic with its beautiful shady trees, and the mood is always relaxing.”

* The author is a local writer and artist.

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