Jacksonville Celebrates the Arts

Jacksonville Celebrates the Arts ushers in autumn each year with bright, artistic style. This year, the 14th annual Labor Day weekend arts festival kicks off a special September celebration of Jacksonville's 150th anniversary.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 3-5, more than 80 artists, craftspersons and food vendors will transform the grounds of Jacksonville's museum into an outdoor arts fair. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the art sale features local and regional artists working in a variety of media.

In a nod to Jacksonville's Jubilee, artwork will reflect a range of styles from traditional Western art to 2010 contemporary, says event coordinator Jeanena Whitewilson.

Silverwork, gold-wrapped gemstones and sculpted copper pottery recall the mining town's mineral-rich early years. The Western handicraft tradition is evident in Bert Emerine's pine needle baskets and Diana Rasmusson's hand-spun yarn. Fine Victorian ladies would feel at home in Braunda Gilchrist's beaded velvet shawls.

Bits and pieces of yesteryear find new life in the rustic and radically recycled art furniture of Jane McClain.

"I take doorknobs, old hardware, belt buckles, funky old rusted things and turn them into one-of-a-kind art," says McClain, who also delights viewers with cowhide-covered furniture.

Artist Patricia Paulk paints Jacksonville's historic homes and commercial buildings as they looked in the past, adding authentically costumed people engaged in activities of the day.

"That's what makes it so much fun," says Paulk. "I try to make each painting different; a snow scene with kids building snowmen or hitting the hats off their parents, or a big old wagon where they go out singing."

Not all the nostalgic activity Paulk portrays is quite so wholesome. Her rendering of Jacksonville's Redman Hall reveals a saloon girl dragging an inebriated patron past an outraged preacher, bickering old biddies immersed in gossip and a young girl too mesmerized by the scene to notice that the water she's pumping is overflowing her bucket.

Other artists share work that is more contemporary in style and materials, such as stained glass, digital photography, soy candles, hemp clothing and wearable art.

As always, painters are well-represented at the festival, including Tony Antonides who is known for his lush watercolor landscapes, and Pegi Smith whose swirling primitive forms glint with metallic acrylic color.

Artist Penny Keenan was a hit at last year's festival with her colorful figurative oil paintings in the style of Diego Rivera.

"I love the comfort of looking at those paintings," Keenan says. "The people are more rounded. Their faces are not perfect portraits, but they have a lot of character and the colors are all warm. It means a lot to me to bring those warm colors into my paintings."

Musical entertainment will include original Celtic dulcimer music by Douglas Ross, guitarist Robert Roth, singer Christina Duane and a preview of Britt Festivals' Jacksonville Jubilee concert.

The Jacksonville museum is at the corner of Fifth and C streets. Proceeds from the event will go toward a new community center.

Contact Jeanena@charter.net, or call 541-899-1121 for information.

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