Art in the Arbor

Popular Louisville festival
kicks off its 43rd year

Juried fine art, craft show features
variety of art, music, food

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 2010) – When Marianne Brown was little, she was always playing in the creek behind her house and always getting in trouble for the muddy messes she made. As an adult, she can still play in the creek behind her house –  only now she digs up clay to use in her pottery creations.

Marianne Brown artwork

Photo provided

Marianne Brown’s pottery will be
among artwork represented by
more than 100 juried artists.

As to her current fascination with clay, “When my mother put me in a clay class when I was 7 or 8 years old and I came home with the same mess and didn’t get in trouble, I was hooked,” said the Indianapolis native.
Brown, who now lives in Lawrenceburg, Ky, will be among the featured artists at the upcoming Art in the Arbor festival. The 43rd annual event is scheduled for May 8-9 on wooded grounds behind Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church, 4936 Brownsboro Rd. Saturday hours are from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday hours are from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. In addition to more than 100 juried artists and craftspersons, the free festival will feature music, food and children’s activities.
Brown’s pottery ranges from strictly functional to almost entirely decorative. She uses food-safe glazes on her pottery, which is dishwasher and oven safe. Items range from traditional coffee mugs to large, wide bowls that can be used as decorative wall pieces or a unique centerpiece.
All of her work is decorated with textured patterns created from stamps she has made from the same clay, and glazed in one of four different colors. “Right now I have 115 stamp patterns in use including nine that have an equestrian theme,” said Brown.
Other patterns include Celtic-Christian, recycled and traditional symbols and patterns. Every few months Brown comes up with new stamp patterns.
“Clay is very forgiving; you can make anything you can imagine, but if you are not satisfied, you can wad it up and start over,” she said. “There are no limitations in clay, so there is always room to grow and change.”
In 1997, Brown began creating pottery full time and built a shop and kiln behind her house. She has participated in craft shows for over ten years, and this is the 10th year for her inclusion in the Art in the Arbor festival.
“We created this festival as a labor of love, a gift to the community,” said Kim Pendley, marketing director for the festival. “We are mindful of families, and design it to be intergenerational.”
The first Art in the Arbor festival was organized in 1968, seven years after the church was chartered. It “soon became a special annual tradition,” said Pendley.
An all-volunteer committee of about 16 people organizes the festival, with 15 separate sub-committees. The festival is juried “to ensure that the art is high quality, original, not manufactured, mass-produced or imported,” she said.
Brown said she keeps participating in the show because “of the size of the show; it’s not too large for my customers.”
Another plus for Brown is that it falls on Mother’s Day weekend and she “has many patrons that either purchase a piece from me for their mother or wife, or will bring their mother with them to my booth to pick out a piece.”
Philip Wasson will also be participating in Art in the Arbor. He has done so for five years and calls it a “good quality art show.” The variety of artwork and large turnout of patrons makes it a special event for him.
Wasson, 62, grew up in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. He spent 31 years working for General Electric Corp. in the Maintenance Department before retiring at age 50.
His brother-in-law, Lonnie Robinson, convinced Wasson he should “be doing something,” so Wasson took up blacksmithing. His mentor was Robinson, a master blacksmith who lives in Rowlett, Texas.
“I was always interested in metal work,” said Wasson. But always “too busy making a living” to pursue this interest.
Wasson creates sculptures from iron and copper. “Iron is traditional for blacksmithing,” he said, while he “fell in love with copper. It has a soft, warm feel to it.”
His most popular selling items are hummingbird feeders made from used bourbon or wine bottles. “I sell more feeders than anything else,” said the Louisville resident.
The theme for this year’s Art in the Arbor is “Art Building Community.” “Over the years, we have grown interconnected with the community around us – residents as well as businesses that see the importance of supporting the arts,” said festival planner Ellen Wade. “This makes our fine art and craft festival very different from some of the other successful shows. We have a personal connection with our artists that creates a loyalty and friendships that remain strong over the years.”
Artists and the business community collaborate to fundraise for Repair Affair during Art in the Arbor. More than 100 art and craft items, and gift certificates for goods and services, will be raffled for $1 per chance.

• For more information, visit: www.tjuc.org/events/art-in-the-arbor.html.

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