By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
---- — Kokomo Art Association President Cheryl Sullivan said there’s a thriving art scene in the city, but it’s underground and out of sight to most people.
But on Sunday, the city’s art scene came into full view when around 12 local artists gathered in Highland Park to show off and sell their pieces during the fourth annual Art in the Park festival.
“Our tagline is bringing art to the community and community to art,” Sullivan said. “We thought this would be a great way to do that. So many people think it’s all fine art hung up in a stuffy gallery or museum. But this very relaxed and it makes art accessible to everybody.”
As people browsed around the booths set up outside the Elwood Haynes Museum, some artists chatted with one another or quietly worked on a painting or sketch.
Jan Hammer, a painter from Sharpsville and a retired GM employee, said she sold one of her paintings earlier in the day, and received a lot of good feedback from patrons about her work.
“It’s always nice to be around other artists,” she said. “We kind of inspire each other, I think.”
One of those artists offering inspiration was Donald Wilka. He’s a certified teacher of an art style called Zentangle.
With just a few simple strokes, Wilka meticulously draws what he calls method-structured patterns on drink coasters or hand bags that sometimes look like strange optical illusions.
“There’s no up-down, right-left process here,” he said. “Everybody approaches it a little differently.”
Colette Inderhees was another artist at the festival. Teacups, miniature shoes and other porcelain objects Inderhees painted with flowers and other designs lined her table.
She said she owns three kilns, and fires some of her pieces six times before they’re finished. Sometimes it’s a three-week process to complete one work, she said.
But for her, the festival isn’t really about selling her pieces. It’s about bringing Kokomo’s art scene from the background to the forefront of the community.
“We just want people to come out and appreciate art,” she said. “We don’t really care if they buy anything, but we just want people to appreciate it.”
Sullivan said she hopes that’s something more and more people do, and said she hopes the festival grows in upcoming years.
Although the turnout was down this year since the event fell on the day after the Haynes Apperson Festival, she said they plan to advertise more in the future to draw bigger crowds.
“Everybody is kind of festivaled out today, I think,” Sullivan said with a laugh. “But it’s been steady. We’ve had people coming through all day, but we haven’t had any great, big crowds. We’d like crowds, but this works, too.”
And in the end, she said the festival really does works for everybody: It raises awareness about the city’s art culture while giving artists an opportunity to come to a relaxed festival to show off and sell their works.
“The community seems to be embracing the art community a little more now than they used to,” Sullivan said. “This works for everybody –the artist and the community. It’s win-win.”
Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.