Lee's Summit Journal

‘Lee’s Summit embraces the cultural arts.’ Summit Art Fest draws thousands

While visiting the Summit Art Festival Saturday, Patricia Forester of Harrisonville was mesmerized by the ceramic work of artists Michelle Chang and Wayne Gao. In their first year participating in the festival, the California-based artists were selected for the Best of Show award from among the field of 100 who participated in this year’s event.
While visiting the Summit Art Festival Saturday, Patricia Forester of Harrisonville was mesmerized by the ceramic work of artists Michelle Chang and Wayne Gao. In their first year participating in the festival, the California-based artists were selected for the Best of Show award from among the field of 100 who participated in this year’s event. Special the Journal

For three days over the weekend, thousands of visitors embraced a large part of what makes Lee’s Summit special.

Cultural arts.

From Oct. 12 through 14, thousands of visitors attended the 11th annual Summit Art Festival to view and purchase work created by more than 100 artists from 15 states.

While live music filled the air, attendees also enjoyed a student art show, an exhibit of artwork by Lee’s Summit School district staff, and a street art competition.

“Lee’s Summit embraces the cultural arts and we have wide community support for all of the fine arts,” said Jodi Fristoe, Summit Art Festival director. “Our downtown area is thriving and our community welcomes our artists.”

Originally called the Longview Art and World Music Festival, the juried event, organized and hosted by Summit Art, has grown exponentially since its first year, when only 49 artists participated.

According to Fristoe, the annual live art event, “Stuck on Art,” has become one the festivals’ most popular attractions over the past several years. During Saturday’s sixth annual competition, six teams of Lee’s Summit middle and high school art students were tasked with creating original artwork on large blank canvases using only black masking tape and a single tool: X-Acto blades.

The canvases were set up at the corner of Third and Main streets, where students had two hours to complete their projects, as thousands of festival-goers watched their progress. Though the young artists were “in it to win it,” there were plenty of laughter breaks throughout the competition. This year’s theme was “Stuck on Lee’s Summit,” and the top prizes were awarded to teams from Lee’s Summit West and Pleasant Lea Middle School.

Work in this year’s festival represented a dozen media categories. Among them were digital, pastel, fiber, glass, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, wood and ceramics.

Ceramic artists Wayne Gao and Michelle Chang took this year’s Best of Show award for their vibrant, nature-themed artwork. This was the first year the California-based artists participated in the festival and their booth stayed busy with attendees and buyers. Patricia Forester of Harrisonville was one of those admirers.

“You have to make a commitment to make art like this,” said Forester, a mixed media artist herself. “It’s not easy.”

Chang said she and her husband worked 25 years to perfect the glazes on their art, resulting in the brilliant finish that distinguishes their craft.

Whimsical and joyful artwork drew onlookers, as did artwork that reflected concerns about the environment.

Lawrence-based artist Matthew Roman uses wood to convey his own vision and message. He brings a lifetime of passion for this material to his work and his highly refined decorative and functional designs are sourced exclusively from recycled wood.

“From a young age, I was aware of the massive amount of trees taken down for urban growth,” said Roman. “A couple of years ago, I got really excited about making work out of these forgotten trees.”

In his studio, Resurrected Woodworks, Roman uses a combination of hand and machine techniques to uncover and reveal the beauty in these discarded limbs and branches.

New Florence, Mo., photographer and farmer Kim Carr exhibited large-scale black-and-white photographs of endangered livestock breeds. Though the images engage viewers with warmth and humor, Carr’s underlying message has a serious tone.

“When people think of endangered animals, they don’t necessarily think of sheep or cows,” Carr said. “A lot of our efforts are focused on saving exotic animals, but there are many breeds of livestock in danger of extinction. My hope is that my images will raise awareness about these animals and their importance.”

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