art-fair

Every inch of the Capitol Square was covered in art from around the world[/media-credit]

It isn’t easy to coax some 150,000 Madison residents and visitors from across the map to Capitol Square, especially amid a record-setting heatwave. But evidently, when you provide the art, the crowds will amass, as they did for the 54th annual Art Fair on the Square held July 14-15. At this year’s fundraising event for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, booths around the Square represented over 450 artists, many from here in Madison, but some from as far as Puerto Rico and Istanbul. It was truly a gathering of cultures that shared a passion: art. “Art,” however, can be a vague term when it encompasses so many forms, but rest assured, the Art Fair on the Square had something for everybody.

Diversity in every sense was key in making MMoCA’s Art Fair a success, and the twelve categories of media provided one layer to that diversity. From 2-D mixed media to fiber and leather, from glass and jewelry to metal and wood, an eclectic mix of art forms and subjects occupied the Square. Housed in tents that did little to dispel the oppressive heat, the art inside proved to be adequate incentive to enter the saunas.

While the 12 pre-defined art categories allowed for some slight definitions of what to see, it required some exploration to fully take in all the facets of even a single genre. Take, for instance, one Best of Show winner, Michael Brown. His quasi-holographic photos might as well have been entered in a 3-D category. Standing in front of a photo of a photographed bridge captured through a ribbed lense with multiple exposures, it was tempting to walk into the image itself. Another of his interactive pieces required the viewer to pace in front of it, watching a seemingly stationary horse and rider gallop gracefully across the print.

Brown’s 3-D imagery required no glasses. Shawn Ray Harris, however, designed his work for the purpose of those red-and-blue tint shades, which he provided to viewers. It allowed the full experience of seeing, say, a skateboarder in midair right in front of your eyes. Could this 3-D art be considered a sort of virtual sculpture? That’s up to the viewers and judges to decide.

True sculpture, as opposed to “virtual,” occupied a large number of booths as well. The media varied from glass to wood to ceramic and metal – almost no medium was left out. The subjects of the sculptures themselves ranged extensively from practical use in lawn ornaments to decorative “do-not-touch” glass pieces and functional woodwork meant to be furniture. Artist Fred Johnson, for example, created quality furniture made from salvaged materials. Using gym floors and other sources, his work featured tables and furniture that is entirely useful, albeit with tentative use. This is one-of-a-kind art, after all.

When bogged down by art purchases, or walker’s fatigue, music and dance entertainment played all weekend across three stages. The performers encompassed a range of sounds and activity. There was indie rock, Irish dancing and belly dancing, each as intriguing to the relaxed audience as the next. The entertainment lasted all day, both days, with over 30 performers across three stages providing at the very least an excellent escape from the heat.

As the weekend rolled to a close, one thing was clear: The Madison arts community is large and thriving and is able to attract hundreds of thousands of people to the small quarters of Capitol Square. The vast crowds of people, many carrying recently-purchased art, testified to the Art Fair’s success, fueled by hundreds of individuals with penchants for creativity and innovation. Whether your artistic preference be 2-D “classic” artwork, 3-D sculptures, woodwork or ceramics, all that and more made MMoCA’s Art Fair on the Square a Madison arts event not to miss. And if you missed it, mark your calendar for 2013, which will feature the Best of Show artists from each category and hundreds more in two days of pure art and relaxation, all on the scenic Capitol Square.It isn’t easy to coax some 150,000 Madison residents and visitors from across the map to Capitol Square, especially amid a record-setting heatwave. But evidently, when you provide the art, the crowds will amass, as they did for the 54th annual Art Fair on the Square held July 14-15. At this year’s fundraising event for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, booths around the Square represented over 450 artists, many from here in Madison, but some from as far as Puerto Rico and Istanbul. It was truly a gathering of cultures that shared a passion: art. “Art,” however, can be a vague term when it encompasses so many forms, but rest assured, the Art Fair on the Square had something for everybody. 

Diversity in every sense was key in making MMoCA’s Art Fair a success, and the twelve categories of media provided one layer to that diversity. From 2-D mixed media to fiber and leather, from glass and jewelry to metal and wood, an eclectic mix of art forms and subjects occupied the Square. Housed in tents that did little to dispel the oppressive heat, the art inside proved to be adequate incentive to enter the saunas. 

While the 12 pre-defined art categories allowed for some slight definitions of what to see, it required some exploration to fully take in all the facets of even a single genre. Take, for instance, one Best of Show winner, Michael Brown. His quasi-holographic photos might as well have been entered in a 3-D category. Standing in front of a photo of a photographed bridge captured through a ribbed lense with multiple exposures, it was tempting to walk into the image itself. Another of his interactive pieces required the viewer to pace in front of it, watching a seemingly stationary horse and rider gallop gracefully across the print. 

Brown’s 3-D imagery required no glasses. Shawn Ray Harris, however, designed his work for the purpose of those red-and-blue tint shades, which he provided to viewers. It allowed the full experience of seeing, say, a skateboarder in midair right in front of your eyes. Could this 3-D art be considered a sort of virtual sculpture? That’s up to the viewers and judges to decide. 

True sculpture, as opposed to “virtual,” occupied a large number of booths as well. The media varied from glass to wood to ceramic and metal – almost no medium was left out. The subjects of the sculptures themselves ranged extensively from practical use in lawn ornaments to decorative “do-not-touch” glass pieces and functional woodwork meant to be furniture. Artist Fred Johnson, for example, created quality furniture made from salvaged materials. Using gym floors and other sources, his work featured tables and furniture that is entirely useful, albeit with tentative use. This is one-of-a-kind art, after all. 

When bogged down by art purchases, or walker’s fatigue, music and dance entertainment played all weekend across three stages. The performers encompassed a range of sounds and activity. There was indie rock, Irish dancing and belly dancing, each as intriguing to the relaxed audience as the next. The entertainment lasted all day, both days, with over 30 performers across three stages providing at the very least an excellent escape from the heat. 

As the weekend rolled to a close, one thing was clear: The Madison arts community is large and thriving and is able to attract hundreds of thousands of people to the small quarters of Capitol Square. The vast crowds of people, many carrying recently-purchased art, testified to the Art Fair’s success, fueled by hundreds of individuals with penchants for creativity and innovation. Whether your artistic preference be 2-D “classic” artwork, 3-D sculptures, woodwork or ceramics, all that and more made MMoCA’s Art Fair on the Square a Madison arts event not to miss. And if you missed it, mark your calendar for 2013, which will feature the Best of Show artists from each category and hundreds more in two days of pure art and relaxation, all on the scenic Capitol Square.