Visual Arts

Technology changes, but the spirit of the Woodland Art Fair remains the same

Photographer and frame artist Craig Brabson of Nashville talked with Phil Trivette and Larry Trivette at his booth on Saturday at the Woodland Art Fair. The event, Aug. 17 and 18, is presented by the Lexington Art League at Woodland Park near downtown Lexington.
Photographer and frame artist Craig Brabson of Nashville talked with Phil Trivette and Larry Trivette at his booth on Saturday at the Woodland Art Fair. The event, Aug. 17 and 18, is presented by the Lexington Art League at Woodland Park near downtown Lexington. Lexington Herald-Leader

Jennifer Wolken deals in hand-bound books, using techniques from medieval times. But when it comes to making a sale, her methods are solidly planted in the digital age.

Blink and you will miss her colleague, Beverly Morris, swiping a credit card through a white appendage on her iPhone. A quick signature and the deal is done.

"I really like it," Susan Stivers said after buying a leatherbound book from Wolken at the Woodland Art Fair on Saturday morning. "All I bring is my driver's license and a credit card, so it's nice that making a purchase is so easy."

For Springfield, Mo.-based Wolken, the Square credit card reader and similar devices make life on the art festival circuit easier and more efficient.

"It used to be we only accepted cash and check, and we had people walk away from the booth when we couldn't take a credit card," Wolken said. "Now, I'd say two-thirds of our sales are credit card."

Smartphones aided artists at the fair in other ways as well.

Jerry Brem calls up his website on his phone to show people works he didn't bring with him, and he says he has received texts from customers after events asking whether he still had a particular painting they decided they really, really wanted.

It is a much different world from the one in which the Woodland Art Fair began. And at its 38th edition, Lexington Art League director Stephanie Harris said the event continues to evolve and change. In addition to using social media like Facebook and Instagram to get the word out, she said the fair this year was taking a more deliberate approach to engaging a wider audience and local artists.

"In visual arts, relevance is a really big deal," Harris said at the Art League tent Saturday. "It's OK to make changes to meet the needs of the community."

Among the changes this year was a program called the Big Tent, which brought in area organizations such as the Lexington Children's Theatre and Bluegrass Printmaking co-op to present interactive events and four Lexington artists invited to present at the juried art fair for the first time.

"I'm not sure how to gauge how well I am actually doing, but it's a fantastic experience," said Lennon Michalski, a Lexington gallery artist who was exhibiting at the fair for the first time. "It is great just being out here and talking to people."

Cricket Press co-owner Sara Turner was effusive about her first time at Woodland, noting traffic through her tent had been nonstop. Shortly after noon Saturday, just two hours into the fair, she noted that some posters had sold out, and her husband, co-owner Brian Turner, had left to get more.

Also doing brisk business was the bike check, a recent innovation for the fair that allowed cyclists to park their bicycles in a fenced area with an attendant.

"It used to be we had to chain our bike to a light pole or tree," Stan Strong said after checking the tandem bike he and his wife, Wendy, rode in on. "Sometimes, if it got busy, it was hard to find a space, and we've even had to walk around with our bikes, which was no fun. With this, it's easy, and we know the bike is safe." Attendant Larry Porter pointed out that in the fenced area, cyclists could even leave items such as helmets with their bikes.

One passing was being observed at this year's fair. A group called the Tree Sweater Gang knitted a sweater for a 250-year-old red oak tree that will likely be cut down after the fair, as it has suffered extensive storm damage recently.

But for all the changes, some things do pleasantly stay the same.

Warming up to play on the gazebo stage, guitarist Willie Eames said he started coming to the fair as a child in the 1970s.

"It's nothing like it was back then," Eames said, noting that the smaller companion event at Woodland Christian Church was about the size of those early fairs. "But thankfully, it is still here in the park. There are a number of events that used to happen here that moved on when they got bigger. But it wouldn't be the Woodland Art Fair if it wasn't in Woodland Park."


Woodland Art Fair

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

When: 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. 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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