ARLINGTON — The streets of downtown Arlington were bustling with pedestrians headed for the fifth annual Art in the Park event on Sept. 8 and 9.
The Art in Legion Park hosted more than 30 vendors this year, selling all forms of art — including photography, paintings, jewelry, pottery, woodworking, silk paintings and more. Several of the vendors are local artists and members of the Arlington Arts Council, which puts on the event each year.
“It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoying seeing each other and listening to live music,” said Sarah Arney, AAC president. Saturday kicked off with a live performance by Paul Nyenhuis, who played flute music and was followed by a series of speeches by both the AAC and local government officials.
“We honored all the accomplishments that we’ve made this past year,” said Arney, who gave the first speech as a greeting to guests and to thank those who helped complete a series of art projects for the city. Those accomplishments include the Swirl in the Sound Garden, which was built as part of local Trey Swanson’s Eagle Scout project and included artistic input from Anthony Gaskin who painted the garden’s mural. Swanson gathered donations from local business to help fund the installment. Also honored in her speech was Mike Nordine’s Big Bug Bike Rack, which was installed at the Arlington Skate Park; the Terrace Park Mural, which was completed as part of the AAC’s Youth Engagement in Art; 20 new light post banners created by several AAC and community members; and two new entry signs for the city of Arlington designed by Barry Herem and Carolyn Sumpter. She also made sure to thank specific members of the community for supporting art in Arlington and members of the AAC’s project committees.
Following Arney’s speech, Mayor Barbara Tolbert and Arlington City Council member Marilyn Oertle spoke about the importance of art and the success of the AAC.
“The mayor and Councilwoman Oertle spoke a lot about how our local artists contribute to the unique identity of the city,” said Arney. “It’s nice to be able to recognize the talent of our local artists.”
The artists were quick to acknowledge the success of the event as well.
“This is my first time here,” said Karen Lyons. “I like it a lot. I love the way that it has been planned, especially the locations of the booths. It’s nice and open, they are not crowded on top of each other.”
Lyons sold hand-painted silk scarves at Art in the Park this year, a craft she’s been perfecting for more than eight years. “I originally started with pen and ink and watercolors because I wanted to paint a piece of cotton fabric for a quilt. Then I tried painting on silk and it just went from there.”
She had a number of people come to her booth at Art in the Park interested in her work.
“I’ve had a lot of visitors come in and say, ‘Oh, Christmas presents!’ A lot of people just come in to feel the scarves, because silk is such a great fabric,” she said.
Arlington area resident Stuart Fountain is a local woodworker who has sold handmade bowls, Chinese hatboxes and snowmen figurines at the art show for two years.
“Last year it was a lot busier,” said Fountain. “But even though it’s not quite as busy, it’s still local and I like that.”
Arlington Arts Council member Larry Estep and his wife Diana Estep, also displayed their artwork at the show. “This is our second year here. I just started painting about two and a half years ago,” said Larry Estep. “I joined the arts council to help the community and because I wanted to get with a group to try to learn other things. It’s fascinating to see the different skills.”
Diana Estep has been perfecting her craft of making pillowcases for 15 years. “It started out as birthday presents for kids, and then parents would ask me to make some to match their room,” she said. “I have seasonal styles, Mickey Mouse and more. I make them out of American flag fabric a lot and the Japanese visitors will buy them as souvenirs to take back home with them. It’s a lot of fun.”
Amber Miller is a jewelry maker who sold her wares at Art in the Park in 2011. “I just basically started doing craft shows a couple of years ago,” she said. “Everybody here has been friendly.”
Miller started making jewelry three years ago, after buying some beads that she thought were beautiful. “I just started to make more and more jewelry and I found that I really loved it, and people wanted to buy it,” she said.
In addition to giving artists the opportunity to display their work, Art in the Park also served as a way for locals to support art in their area.
“I believe that whenever you provide an opportunity to come together and have fun and share ideas, it is good for the community,” said Arney.
The AAC is hosting the Seattle Rock Orchestra on Oct. 13 and their annual Fall into Art Auction fundraiser on Oct. 20. For more information go to www.arlingtonartscouncil.net.