Visitors to the annual show can shop, eat and dabble in the arts

After a year when the Lakeville Art Festival went without a few of its features in 2020 due to COVID-19 guidance, the 2021 version of the annual autumn event will look much more like it had in the 2010s.

Along with having more artists – 85 this year, up from 60 in 2020 – the festival will feature music, more food and drink options, a youth art tent, artists exhibitions and a chance for Lakeville residents to contribute to a community art project.

“What’s not to love about it?” said Sarah Stowell, volunteer chair of the event’s planning committee. “It’s all free too, which is also kind of rare.”

The Friends of the Lakeville Area Arts Center’s juried festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds of the Lakeville Area Arts Center, when people can see and interact with artists working in a wide range of media and maybe even purchase a new piece of art.

As if that isn’t enough, the highlight of the first day will be the 11 a.m. unveiling of a new 8-foot, 1,200-pound aluminum sculpture outside the Arts Center. The work was commissioned by the city of Lakeville through an application process. The work is “Fossil” by Rebekah Glasmann and James Traumen of St. Cloud.

In addition to getting a chance to take in the new sculpture along the Arts Center’s Art Walk, the festival will includes artists who work with ceramics, glass, wood, photography, paint, pottery, jewelry and more. To see a preview of the works, go to the event’s website where each artist has their own page.

“We try not to have too much of one thing,” Stowell said.

She said the festival is great since the works are museum-grade quality that can’t be found in traditional stores.

The festival uses three jurors to assemble the cast of artists who will be invited to exhibit.

Stowell said there were about 150 applicants this year, and 30% of the artists are new to the festival from the previous two years.

She said 2020 was a tough year for artists, who often depend on art shows to sell and market their works. The Lakeville Arts Festival tried to do its part last year to help out the artists, as it was one of a few Twin Cities area art events in 2020.

While art shows were in short supply, Stowell said artists attempted to replace that by bolstering their websites for showing their works, but it didn’t match the ability to connect with potential buyers like an art show.

She said the chance to talk to the artist in person about their process and inspirations adds a deeper connection.

“It’s fun to welcome all of these artists to the community,” Stowell said.

Stowell said it is a lot of work for the artists to prepare and work these shows, but it’s also important for them to interact with people and demonstrate their process.

While some artists will offer a sneak peek of a work in progress at their booth, others will be offering formal demonstrations.

The schedule of those demonstrations includes:

Sept. 18

10 a.m.-noon: Laura Presley, oil painting

Noon-2 p.m.: Laura Juul, silver clay jewelry

2-4 p.m.: Helena Leary-Heinz, wheel throwing

Sept. 19

10 a.m.-noon: Helena Leary Heinz, wheel throwing

Noon-2 p.m.: Maya Valadez, acrylic and watercolor painting

2-4 p.m.: Sonya Honaker, wheel throwing

Organizers are looking forward to having all this and other features of past events, though they are spreading booths out a bit and making space in other areas of the grounds.

There also will be more space for food options. Among the items that will be served are handmade chocolates, egg rolls, pizza, street tacos, ice cream, gyros and items from Lakeville’s own Baldy’s BBQ. A beer and wine tent will be operated by Lakeville Liquors.

The Young at Art tent will be bigger, as the Lakeville Rotary donated $3,000 to outfit the area, which will focus on puppet-making. Children will also have a chance to paint on easels around the tent.

Young people won’t be the only ones allowed to get creative. All ages will have a chance to paint a portion of the community art project, which will be a sailboat sculpture. Those who want to contribute will be guided by volunteers at the project station.

Stowell expects attendance to be strong based on other outdoor Lakeville events, such as Pan-O-Prog and the Taste of Lakeville, that drew well.

“The planning is going great,” Stowell said. “Everything is falling into place.”

Stowell said she feels like the planning group is a well-oiled machine that has been flexible as changes happen.

One area of emphasis in the days leading up to the event is signing up additional volunteers. People can help out in the Youth at Art tent or assisting the artists with various needs. More information is at the event’s website.

“Volunteers are really important for us for making the show go smoothly,” Stowell said.

Sponsor support is also critical to staging a great event. Businesses and individuals can find out more about how to donate at lakevilleartscenterfriends.org/art-festival. The website also carries information about volunteering, the artists and more.

Tad Johnson can be reached at tad.johnson@apgecm.com.

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