The 40th annual Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival presented 140 talented artists the first weekend in August at Dawes Park (Sheridan Road at Church Street). It was a gorgeous, sunny weekend and perfect conditions for browsing, buying, eating, listening to live bands, and just lolling around the lagoon.
I explored the festival late on Sunday afternoon and three artists in particular entranced me with their wares. The first one, Gary Jackson of Fire When Ready Pottery, teaches at nearby Lillstreet Art Studio. His intricately designed vessels are stunning, unique and functional, but what made me flip over Gary and his work was the wonderful sign to parents posted prominently in his booth.
Pottery is so tactile, a wonderful duality of strength (after being fired in a kiln with temperatures of nearly 2000 degrees) and delicacy, it would not be unreasonable for anyone to be skittish when handling these pieces. But Gary’s philosophy and eagerness to introduce kids to art is so generous, he earned my respect immediately. The crescent-shaped items at the forefront of the photo below are rattles…fun and interesting to touch, with the added bonus of sound! Gary’s parents help out on show days; the next festival for them is in Barrington, IL in September and then a studio sale right before Thanksgiving.
Another artist I met was Natalya Sots, a ceramicist who lives in Schaumburg, IL. Her brightly colored works are elaborate with pattern, glazes and whimsical flourishes. Many of her pieces are functional, such as cups and butter dishes, and some are works of art only to be admired. All of them are beautiful.
The third artist whose work grabbed me was Sonia Kuhlmann of Eskay who makes beautiful handcrafted bags, wraps and assorted other items. The yarn on this periwinkle wrap was luscious, so thick and cozy that I wanted to snuggle up with it right there. Her bags are charming, a bit funky and very textural, with a sense of fun clearly evident in every design. Sonia is also happy to make customized purses if you don’t see the color or style you have in mind.
Regretfully there were many artisans I did not have a chance to meet. The festival is always held the first weekend in August at Dawes Park, and is absolutely worth your time next year. Mark your calendars, get your gift lists organized and save August 2-3, 2014.