When you think of areas with an established art scene, Kane, Pennsylvania might not be on your list of locations. But if that is the case, you’d be overlooking an area that is rich with both artistic culture and talent. One of the reasons for the influence of art in Kane is the Art in the Wilds juried fine arts show. Now entering its 12th year, Art in the Wilds is a showcase event for creative minds throughout the region to display and sell their wares.
Art in the Wilds will take place June 23-24 from 10am-5pm (rain or shine). And while the event has grown in size and popularity every year, the intent has remained the same since day 1: to draw people to Kane to show them why people are inspired to live in the region.
This year, Courtney Mealy is taking the reigns as the Marketing Director for Art in the Wilds. Her duties include advertising and promoting the event along with the help of the event committee - a group of volunteers who help to plan, manage and promote the event.
“I have been an attendee of Art in the Wild for the past several years and have wanted to get more involved,” said Mealy. “I have worked for several arts organizations and consulted with artists in the past and I wanted to offer my insight to this region’s arts and cultural scene.”
On top of the normal traditional advertising efforts, this year Mealy has created an Instagram page for Art in the Wilds. You can check it out at @artinthewilds to get a preview of what to expect at the event. And to make things easier for both artists and patrons, she has started a “Festival Friday Tips” as a way of giving advice on how artists can set up their booth and market their artwork. Additionally, on the patron side, the tips offered include advice such as: “no dogs in Evergreen Park due to borough regulations.” Mealy mentioned that she is also planning to start a page on Art In the Wild’s website where some of this content can be stored and viewed by anyone.
Choosing the participating artists has become an easier-said-than-done process that is led by a juried system. “We are looking for quality fine art and fine craft, especially work that highlights the best of our region,” said Mealy. “We work to provide a balanced show with a variety of media and artists with a wide range of price points. We have several regional artists, art educators, and individuals associated with arts organizations review each application. Our jurors typically spend over 15 hours each reviewing images, artist statements, websites and much more to determine who will be in each year’s show. This year we had our largest turnout for applicants - 62! From that 62, the jurors chose 40 artists to participate in this year’s event. Artists are welcome to apply year to year and we always accept new artists. We like to have a mix of returning artists with those who are new. This way it keeps the event fun and ever changing.”
Some of the talent you will see at this year’s Art In the Wilds includes:
DAWN JOHNSON (2017 Best of Show-2D): Dawn is a past AIW artist who used to create jewelry, then a few years ago surprised everyone and changed her medium! Her paintings are a “combination of impressions from the world around us and my need for self-expression.” A statement on her website (www.coolauntdesigns.com) reads: “My paintings reflect the fascination of Earth’s landscapes. My paintings capture abstract thoughts and ideas using color, as well as organic shape and form.”
Dawn works with acrylic paint, watercolor and her most recent passion, Alcohol Inks. She explains, “Alcohol inks are solid based dyes with an alcohol base which makes them indelible and moisture resistant. They are transparent and highly saturated with pigment which gives them their bold and intense color.”
If you noticed the name of her website, you may be wondering, “Cool Aunt?” … Dawn explains, “When I first started selling my art I called myself ‘Designs by Dawn.’ I found, however, that there are many websites currently using this. In addition, sites using the name ‘Dawn Johnson’ are also very common. To avoid confusion, I wanted a more creative name. During a show my niece came from college for the weekend to assist me. When she was heading back to school she said she couldn’t wait to show her friends the items her ‘cool aunt’ had made … thus, ‘Cool Aunt Designs’ was born.”
MIKE WEISHAN (Nature Photography): Mike Weishan is a first-time AIW artist from Cattaraugus, NY, showing his fine art nature photography. A tour of his website (www.mrweishanphotography.com) will lead you to a diverse selection of photographs, which, according to Mike, “reflect my personal view of our natural world. The subjects and colors of my photographs can help create a mood in any room at home or work by giving your room a refreshing quality, providing a tranquil psychological impact, establishing a mood of happiness and optimism, stimulating creativity, creating excitement, or creating a feeling of sophistication.”
Mike became interested in photography during high school, serving as the photographer for the school newspaper, further developing that interest after military service through a correspondence course. “I established ‘Images by Michael’, my home-based photography business in 1996, and continued to develop my skills through workshops, seminars, publications and my association with other professionals.”
At the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Mike volunteers as a photo archivist. His photographs have been exhibited in the Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University, the Center Gallery at Jamestown Community College, the Cattaraugus County Arts Council (solo show), the Surrounding Gallery in Westfield, Glass Arts Gallery in Mayville, and at several businesses. This year, he will add Kane’s Art In the Wilds to his impressive list of exhibits.
Other key artists to keep an eye out for: father and son duo Roland and Geno Boni (Mudslide Pottery), Leslie Halaby-Moore (chain maille jewelry), Gregg Kristophel (functional woodworker), Debbie Penley (handcrafted felt sculptures), Karen Fitzpatrick (stained glass), and Diane Castle-Babcock (linoleum block printing), just to name a few. Find the full list of participating artists at www.artinthewilds.org/2018-artists
“This wonderful art show would not be possible without the support of our generous community-minded sponsors,” said Julie Cleland, President of Art In the Wilds. “Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Kane Community Development Foundation, UMPC Kane, Zook Motors, County National Bank, Highlander Energy and Northwest Bank.”
One of the goals of an event like Art in the Wilds is to inspire, and so it is very fitting that there is a Student Art Exhibit & Competition component to Art in the Wilds. Now entering its fourth year, the decision to start the competition was made as a way of establishing a high-end annual student show in Kane.
“We invited 22 high school art teachers in McKean and our five contiguous counties to engage student participation,” Mealy said. “The show continues to grow with the amazing talent of high school artists of our region.”
Pre-registered students will drop off their artwork on Saturday at the start of Art in the Wilds, where the submissions will be judged and open to the public by 1pm. The student show will also be open all day on Sunday. At 3:30pm on Sunday, the student artists will gather for photos and the awards ceremony.
Schools participating in this year’s event include: Austin and Oswayo-Valley from Potter County; Kane, Bradford, Port Allegany, and Otto-Eldred from McKean County; Ridgway from Elk County, and Sheffield from Warren County.
So mark your calendars and make plans to visit Kane, Pennsylvania June 23-24. Come see this talented collection of artists and experience what the people of Kane have known for quite some time - that Art in the Wilds is a spectacular representation of the beauty that is abundant in Kane.