Park transforms into open-air art gallery

Nick Baker

Art in the Park features artists of all kinds

WATCH an audio slideshow of Art in the Park.

On one end of the park, Grateful Dead cover tunes filled the air, weaving in and out of the rows of white tents that lined the walkways. On the other end, native Cherokee storytellers shared wisdom of their tribe, all while members of the Society of Creative Anachronism were busy honing their sword fighting skills in preparation for Sunday’s combat demonstration.

For two days this weekend, Kent’s Fred Fuller Park held the 15th annual Art in the Park festival, transforming the park into an open-air art gallery. Eighty-five artists were part of the festival, selling their work from the tents that covered the grass of Fred Fuller Park.

The artists, whose work ranged anywhere from wood carvings and glass blowing to painting and garment making, were selected by a jury after submitting photographs of their work. Twenty-one musical acts also performed over the course of the two-day event.

Nancy Rice, the recreation supervisor for Kent Parks and Recreation, said the event was a big deal for the city of Kent.

Though the crowds were thin early Saturday because of the weather, as the sun came out, so did the people.

Demonstrators included the Tree City Wood Carvers, a Japanese tea ceremony, glass blowing, pottery and ceramic artists, Custer’s Alpacas and a 14-year-old yo-yo performer.

The Society of Creative Anachronism, an organization that works to recreate arts and skills of the Middle Ages, had several tents. These tents featured handmade crafts fashioned in the same manner that they would have been hundreds of years ago. Some wove hats, some were busy working leather to carve and some were getting their armor ready for weapons demonstrations. Rapier fighting, or fencing as it is commonly known, is one of the group’s specialties.

Karen Johnson, a calligraphy specialist and member of the Marche of Gwyntarian, said that the group enjoys being at an event like this, and that they frequently hold events at Fred Fuller Park.

“We have 25 to 40 people here for the festival,” she said. “A lot of them miss out on other events to be here.” She added that on the last Friday of every month the group holds a medieval dance party at the Roy H. Smith Shelterhouse at the park.

All artisans at the festival had pieces for sale at their tents. Tom and Desiree Gilbert, of Gilbert’s Woodworking in Norwalk, featured handmade jewelry boxes, music boxes and other custom wood furniture and boxes in their tent.

Tom Gilbert majored in art during college, and after doing wood burnings on a box he had built, he discovered his trade. Tom designs and builds the woodcarvings, and his wife Desiree sands and finishes them.

They were one of many varieties of crafts available at the festival. The event also featured a wide array of musical performers. Laura Fedor, Willoughby resident and finalist on the 6th season of “Nashville Star,” sang on one of the two stages.

Fedor said that she likes performing at events like Art in the Park because of the informal interaction between her and the audience.

“I like it because I meet a lot of new people,” she said. “I love meeting new people, and something like this makes it easy.”

Jeff Ingram, the executive director for Standing Rock Cultural Arts, was in charge of booking some of the bands for the event. He said Art in the Park is a great event for artists and musicians in a great environment.

“I think Art in the Park is a great outdoor art gallery,” said Ingram. “The park, the trees – it’s a very nice setting for something like this.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].