By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Wide-eyed fair-goers looked on in wonder Friday night as artists created works from raw materials during Firehouse Art Center’s 36th annual Midsummer Nights’ Fair at Lions Park.
Many gathered under the fair’s central tent to watch Craig Swan, Firehouse faculty member, demonstrate clay sculpture alongside fellow faculty members Elyse Bogart creating jewelry from scratch and Bill Boetcher carving stone.
“We are doing out in this field, under this tent, exactly what goes on in the Firehouse in our classes,” Swan said. “We’re really trying to express the value of the things we teach.”
The faculty members will continue their work from 6 to 11 p.m. today at Lions Park, 450 S. Flood Ave., as a part of the two-day juried arts festival highlighting local art with artists booths, demonstrations, live music and interactive arts activities for all ages.
Megan Benn, a Norman resident attending the fair for the first time with her two children, said she enjoys taking her children to events where they can participate in the arts.
“I just think it’s good for their creativity,” Benn said. “Art just expands their minds. I think sometimes in schools, there may not be as many opportunities for them to utilize those activities, so any outside focus we can put on the arts I think are great, too.”
Benn’s daughter, Molly, was one of many children painting on the “Children’s Art Wall.” Other interactive activities for visitors included drawing, foil sculpting and painting “Creative Cubes.”
Darci Lenker, a Norman fiber artist, was one of 29 artists displaying work during the fair. Many stopped to gaze at her whimsical, felt, monster-like dolls. She said she hoped fair-goers enjoyed the variety of art at the family friendly event.
“The arts bring a lot to the community to make it a better place and get people involved in things that maybe they wouldn’t be otherwise,” she said.
Other artists booths displayed goods in a variety of mediums including photography, glass, tie-dye, jewelry, metal, pottery, painting, crafts, woodworking, acrylic, soaps and more.
Artists were judged in several categories including Best of Show and first-, second- and third-place positions for both 2-D and 3-D works.
This year’s winners include potter Paul Pfrehm for Best of Show, painter Gloria Lamar for first place 2-D works, photographer Debra Van Swearingen for second place 2-D, painter Thomas Stotts for third place 2-D, jeweler Louanne Duckworth for first place 3-D works, potter June Whitacre for second place 3-D and woodworker Dan Nealey for third place 3-D. Judges Carol Beesley and Alan Atkinson selected this year’s winners.
For those inspired by the surrounding arts, the Firehouse had its own booth set up to advertise available classes in the next semester as well as accept enrollments.
In addition to the visual arts, musicians jammed out on two separate stages. The music was hosted by McMichael Music, with one stage featuring local bands and McMichael Music Rock Clinic bands on the other.
Firehouse Executive Director Douglas Shaw Elder said the second night of the fair will include new music and newly placed art in artist booths.
For more information on the fair, visit normanfirehouse.com.