Fine Craft fest supports Art Center
Anne T. Gary will offer her imaginative vases at the Festival of Fine Craft in Highland Park.
Festival of Fine Craft
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24
The Art Center, 1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
Free, $5 donation suggested for adults
(847) 926-4300 or visit www.amdurproductions.com
Updated: June 19, 2012 6:32PM
Some exciting changes will mark this year’s Festival of Fine Craft at The Art Center in Highland Park thanks to Amy Amdur, whose Amdur Productions is running the event for the first time.
“I have been sitting on the board of The Art Center,” said Highland Park resident Amdur. “Months and months ago when it came time to talk about the art festival, I had a lot of ideas for how it could be improved.”
Amdur was asked to organize the event which she gladly did, even though it meant she had to resign from the board. “That’s fine because I feel like I’m making a huge contribution,” she said.
Since it’s a fundraiser for The Art Center, Amdur has devised a couple of ways to make it more profitable.
Amdur asked each of the 130 juried artists in the show to contribute an item that retails for at least $100. Those items will be placed in a huge tent and arranged by price categories. People can either buy an item outright at the listed price or choose to put in a lower bid.
In addition, although admission to the event is free, board members will be stationed at the entry points suggesting adults make a $5 contribution.
Festival highlights include a tent where art-making processes will be demonstrated, a youth activity area and live music.
Of course, the main attraction is the work of the many artists.
Anne T. Gary will be exhibiting her ceramic work for the fourth year. Gary’s innovatively colored vases and other pieces are exquisitely shaped. For this artist, ceramics is both an art and a science. She spends a great deal of time formulating and testing glazes.
“I’m an engineer by training,” Gary said. “So it’s fun to use the other half of my brain and be creative.”
The Naperville resident, who grew up in Iowa, recalled going to parks as a child to dig up clay that she would make into dog and cat sculptures. “My dad was a veterinarian,” she explained.
“I took pottery in high school but I was good in math and science,” Gary reported. That led her to a career as an engineer, and years of traveling around the world for her job, while raising two sons with her husband.
About 10 years ago, Gary left her engineering job. Eight years ago, she began taking pottery classes.
“I was hooked,” Gary said. “Five or six years ago, I started doing shows. It’s gone from there.”
We’ll say. Gary’s work is sold in 50 galleries around the United States. “It really is a business,” she said. “I’m probably shipping over 600 pieces between February and June.”
It’s also a pleasure. “I really enjoy when I can be creative and do something new,” Gary said.
Evanston artist Jonathan Lee Rutledge was also on a different career path before deciding to pursue his real passion — making jewelry. Rutledge had been a firefighter in Rolling Meadows for four years when he made the switch.
“I did my first show in 2004 and three months after that I left the department to pursue this fulltime,” he said. “I studied jewelry design in graduate school prior to being a firefighter. It’s what I always wanted to do. I loved being a firefighter as well but I was working toward doing this fulltime.”
The bold designs of Rutledge’s brooches, earrings and necklaces are often inspired by jewelry created by ancient Greeks, Etruscans and Egyptians. “It blows my mind that they were able to create what they did thousands of years ago,” he said.
Rutledge’s primary medium is high karat gold, which he said lends itself to granulation, the technique he uses which was also used by the ancient artists he admires. “You’re taking tiny granules of gold, laying out patterns with them and then fusing them down,” he said.
The artist sells his jewelry at about 15 craft shows a year around Chicago and on the East Coast.
Jewelry-making is the second most important thing in Rutledge’s life. “Other than seeing my family,” he said. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing. I have a need to create.”