This past weekend, over 150 artists and makers converged at Hardesty Park for the 38th annual Akron Arts Expo. Many of them have been meticulously working year-round to display and sell their work to the public, and some made the trip from other states to bring their wares to Akron.
From intricate oil pastel paintings to finely forged jewelry, this event had plenty of items that were praised by its patrons. However, some pieces were well beyond your average idea of art. Take Tony and June Burns’ “Peachie Originals” decorative art puzzles, for example. These two artists, hailing from Fredonia, N.Y., specialize in designing and creating what are known as scroll saw puzzles. They resemble various animals, trees and mythical creatures.
“The history of puzzle-making is just as important as the creation of it,” says June Burns, who proceeded to show pictures of the several wooden treadle machines that she and her husband have been using since their start 30 years ago. “My passion for mathematics and engineering, along with my husband’s avid woodworking skills, have definitely cultivated our craft of these puzzles.” She explains that their inspiration for each particular puzzle comes from their four children and the multitude of individuals they have encountered at numerous art fairs.
Another artist, Richard Horner, of Rimersburg, Pa., shares an interesting story of how he got into the realm of art shows. “Originally, I worked in a furniture store, learned how to make bed posts and chair legs and such. Then I went and worked for Pepsi for a little while.” However, this highly detailed woodworking became his passion after a serious health crisis that “ultimately caused me to quit my job and take up my hobby of pen-making.” He adds, “My wife actually approached me and said that I either needed to sell the pens or throw them out, so I was inclined to start entering art exhibitions.” Now, Horner goes to nearly 20 art expos a year all around the northeast to show off his renowned handcrafted writing instruments.
Homegrown artist Chris Deighan, a native of Sagamore Hills, in Northeast Ohio, displayed an extensive array of ink illustrations that depict cities like Akron and Cleveland condensed into a panoramic form. These drawings feature a variety of landmarks within each of the cities.
He says, “I have always been into architecture, and especially industrial city scenes since I was about four years old. I even decided to study sociology in college so I could see how industry has influenced our society.”
It was clear that Deighan was invested in his work as he had several piles of shirts featuring his illustrations. “I enjoy making elaborate city landscapes and trying to hide certain things from the viewer so that they really have to look at the drawing. Just like a ‘Where’s Waldo’ picture.” To the viewer, this is much more detailed than a guy in glasses and red and white hat. These are finely crafted architectural compositions.
Artists and makers interested in registering for the Akron Art Expo in the future are encouraged to visit akronartsexpo.org. To be considered for the art expo, you need take pictures of your artwork or displays and upload them to the online jurying system (OJS) where anonymous judges will rate your work. If they find the art to be on-par with their standards, they will admit you and allow you to set up a booth at the art festival.
Event sponsors included WAKR/WONE/WQMX, Pepsi, Heidelberg Distributing Company, House of LaRose, Pat Catan’s Craft Centers, Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com, Bright Idea Shops, Morgan Linen Services, and Main Street Gourmet.