My family and I headed downtown today to take in the final hours of the Festival of the Arts. Provided the weather is cooperative, the last day of the festival is typically bustling, and since it was partly cloudy and in the high 60s, people thronged International Food Row, Hudson Avenue and the Myriad Gardens.Regardless of the weather, the final day of festival is always a bit sad, sort of like twilight on New Year’s Day, when the holidays are over. It’s a bit depressing to think the festive rite of spring is over for another year.
As anticipated, the 42nd annual festival provided an array of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings. Here’s a roundup of the best of fest according to the fam and me:
Top 10 artists
Every year, the festival showcases 144 different artists on Hudson Avenue. The wares displayed in these booths include paintings, sculpture, pottery, woodwork, jewelry and more. Obviously, there’s something for just about anyone, and with 144 different booths to see, it can be difficult to take it all in.
While all the artists offered eye-popping artwork, these were the 10 whose work really captured the eyes and imaginations of the McDonnell clan:
1. Julie Rice, McLouth, Kan., “touch artistry”: I featured Julie’s unique “fingertip paintings” of horses, cowboys and American Indians in my festival story in Saturday’s The Oklahoman. After interviewing her, watching her work on two different ink paintings and viewing videos of her working on different paintings on her Web site, I still have a hard time believing that she can create such intricately detailed paintings with just her fingers and an ink pad. To create her portraits and paintings, she touches her middle finger to an inkpad coated in sepia-toned ink (She also does paintings with white ink on a black background.) and dabs the ink into the right place on her acid-free foam board, where she outlines her subject in faint pencil. It sounds simplistic, but the results are astounding. I’ve been covering the arts for a long time – and have appreciated them even longer – but that just might be the coolest artsy thing I’ve ever seen.
2. Kevin Liang, Brooklyn, N.Y., oil: Liang matches his idyllic, Impressionistic landscapes with Chinese calligraphy and poems he writes for lovely results.
3. Stephen Hackley, Richardson, TX, oil: Hackley fills huge canvases with images of vividly colored, realistically rendered flowers, including some that take up a pair of canvases.
4. Glenn Payne, Blue Springs, Mo., oil: Payne’s paintings prove just how much magic some artists can render in black and white. His evocative portraits of a man in a hat are intriguing on their own merit, but what’s even more interesting is meeting the artist and realizing all of them are self-portraits.
5. Patrick Stone, Santa Fe, N.M., sculpture: His name is absolutely fitting: Stone is a top-notch sculptor working in, that’s right, stone. He goes by “Stoneman,” and his geometric sculptures are distinctively modern in their form, but still have an innately timeless quality.
6. Stanley Buss, Elk City, wood: Buss creates a variety of functional artwork in wood, from pepper grinders to cutting boards, but his most impressive pieces interweave several shades of different wood for a gorgeous multi-tone effect.
7. Mel Fleck, Louisville, Ky., graphic artist: Fleck recreates the exotic artistry of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese calligraphy and the cat worship of the two cultures.
8. Kent Kraus, Santa Fe, N.M., sculpture: Another talented Santa Fe sculptor, Kraus crafts gracefully curving contemporary sculptures, including fountains, that are reminiscent of otherworldly flowers.
9. Toby McGee, Oklahoma City, glass: McGee is able to blow colorful glass into a variety of unusual, gorgeously graceful shapes.
10. Hooshang Khorasani, Ruston, La., acrylic: His paintings of wildly colored, free-spirited horses offer a distinctive – and distinctively modern – take on the West.