Visual Arts

New Big Tent at Woodland Art Fair shines spotlight on four local artists

At Lexington's Cricket Press, Sara and Brian Turner design and hand-print silk screen posters in addition to other design work. They are first-time exhibitors at the Woodland Art Fair.
At Lexington's Cricket Press, Sara and Brian Turner design and hand-print silk screen posters in addition to other design work. They are first-time exhibitors at the Woodland Art Fair.

Elizabeth Foley says she "kind of flipped out" earlier this week when she read that 60,000 people attend the Woodland Art Fair each year.

"I was like, 'Am I going to have enough?'" she says, laughing, "and then I calmed down and realized only so many of them will come to my tent, only some will buy ... ."

But that moment of panic was understandable considering this will be Foley's first time selling at the Lexington art fair, which annually boasts more than 200 juried artists.

Foley is one of four local artists who were invited this year to exhibit in the Lexington Art League's new Big Tent. The tent is a multifaceted effort at promoting community through art, says Becky Alley, exhibitions and programs director for the Lexington Art League, which organizes and presents the fair, in its 38th year.

Groups including the Living Arts and Science Center and Lexington Children's Theater will be featured in the tent, along with the Art League itself and the four artists.

"We want to support local artists and a vibrant local arts community," Alley says. "We invited four artists that we thought could really benefit from being at the Woodland Art Fair to set up a booth and sell their wares, and experience the fair to see if it is something they want to do in the future."

The experiences of the four artists range from those of Cricket Press, which travels to festivals and has exhibited at an event on the periphery of the Woodland fair, to that of Sarah Heller, who is in her first year as a full-time artist after a 10-year career in architecture.

Lexington artist Lennon Michalski, who has received national recognition from outlets including Oxford American magazine, is also exhibiting in the Big Tent.

For Michalski, this is a chance to engage with a new audience with whom he hasn't interacted before, because his career has been geared toward gallery work.

"I'm overall excited to be in this scene I haven't really seen before," Michalski says. "My work typically is out of the budget of someone walking around saying, 'I want to buy something today.'"

He says that has reoriented him toward creating smaller works, "where I haven't worked on something for a thousand hours, and now I'm trying to get my money back out of it," and putting together a booth, like some of his other Big Tent compatriots."

Heller says, "I am completely honored and excited to do it. It is very rare to have this many people, and people who are specifically there to see art.

"I'm not sure how I'll do at an event this big when I am used to a relatively small gallery space," she adds.

Heller has a studio at the Bread Box complex fronted by West Sixth Brewing, which named a beer in Heller's honor, Heller Heaven Double IPA, after she painted a mural on the building.

Heller also was commissioned to build the archlike sculpture that will serve as the entrance to the Big Tent.

She said fellow Bread Box artists have been very supportive of her Woodland adventure, even lending her gear to set up her booth.

Alley estimates that with all the basic costs of presenting at Woodland, including application and booth fees and the actual tent and booth, it can cost about $3,800 for an artist to show at the fair, before adding in the cost of making the art.

Those are costs familiar to Cricket Press's Brian Turner, who says he had considered exhibiting at Woodland before but had a good location just outside the fair.

"We sort of got introduced to the fair through some friends who exhibited at Woodland Christian Church, and we always had an enjoyable experience there," he said.

The invitation was the catalyst to get Turner and his wife, Sara Turner, who owns Cricket Press with him, to make the move, he says.

Turner says Cricket Press travels to several festivals around the region, including ones devoted to poster and comic art, and he most enjoys the interaction with people.

That's what newcomers said they were looking forward to with their first festival experience.

Michalski says he is looking forward to more straightforward assessments of his work than he says are typical of academic and gallery environments.

"I will definitely be looking at numbers — how much was sold and how much I made," Foley says. "But the interactions will be really important as well; will I be able to engage people and be comfortable selling that way."


Woodland Art Fair

What: 38th annual edition of the fair featuring more than 200 juried artists plus entertainment and food.

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 18

Where: Woodland Park, 601 E. High St.

Admission: Free

Learn more:


Visit the Herald-Leader's Woodland Art Fair booth (No. 27) to get freebies, meet newspaper personalities, sign up for a subscription, learn more about and enter to win prizes, including a framed photograph by staff photographer Charles Bertram, box seats to Keeneland's fall meet and box seats to Churchill Downs' fall meet.


Bike check: A monitored bike check will be at the racquetball court on the High Street side of the park.

Shuttle: Three shuttles (including one that's wheelchair-accessible) will be circulating every 10 minutes to the fair. Park free at American Founders Bank's downtown Lexington branch, Rose and East Main Streets; in the LexTran Transit Center parking garage (enter from East High Street); the Phoenix parking lot; and the Herald-Leader's front parking lot, 100 Midland Avenue.


Performances will be on the park's gazebo stage, on the Kentucky Avenue side of the park.

Aug. 17: 9:30 a.m., Blakely Burger. 10:45, Willie Eames. Noon, Custom Made Bluegrass. 1:15 p.m., Kava Java Trio. 2:30, Ben Lacey. 3:45, Mecca Hula. 5, Chris Weiss.

Aug. 18: 10:30 a.m., Kyle Meadows. 11:45, Young Heirlooms. 1 p.m., Rakadu Gypsy Dancers. 2:30, Lisa Raymond Acoustic. 3:45, Reva Dawn Salon.

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