BY ERIN HEILING
South Park in Oshkosh will once again be the beautiful setting for more than 100 artists to showcase their talents at the Winnebagoland Art Fair, which will be held on Sunday, June 8. Final preparations are under way, thanks to the members of the Oshkosh Fine Arts Association (OFAA), a group of volunteers which has hosted the event for 57 years. This exciting occasion offers fun for the entire family and is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the state of Wisconsin.
It is estimated that over 6,000 people will attend this free, annual event to see the work of artists who live as far away as California as well as outstanding local talent. Artists will display and sell 2D and 3D works…from original paintings, mixed media, wood and stone carvings, pottery and ceramics, metal sculpture, jewelry and glass works…to drawings, pen and ink, engravings, etchings, photographs, wall hangings, fiber and fabric arts, and basketry. Not only will they share their work, but they will compete for the coveted Best of Show honors, Awards of Excellence, and various purchase awards.
Returning participant Lynn Artz is a prolific artist who has done a series of large, vibrant watercolors as well as smaller works. Artz spoke about the Oshkosh event: “This will be my second year having a booth in the OFAA Winnebagoland Art Fair as well as my second season doing art fairs. Last year, when I began doing fairs, I started in Oshkosh since it has always been one of my favorite shows to go to. South Park is a beautiful place to spend a Sunday outdoors, and the variety of artists, music and food make it an event everyone can enjoy.”
Besides providing an opportunity for art lovers to see many different styles of work and chat with the artists who created them, there will also be a silent auction set up inside the park pavilion, where visitors can bid on items donated by the attending artists; the money raised will be used for student scholarships. Visitors will also be treated to music and the chance to indulge in a plethora of treats, including kettle corn, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, strawberry shortcake, root beer floats, fresh-squeezed lemonade and more.
An art fair of this magnitude could not be successful without hard work behind the scenes as well as generous sponsors in the community. The OFAA promotes art in the Oshkosh area throughout the year, and although much has changed over the years, the organization’s focus has remained the same. This event is a culmination of that work and focus. According to Kathy Murphy, a past president of OFAA: “We are entirely a group of volunteers who put on this event for the love of art and to provide a venue for artists who make their living selling their work at shows. All proceeds from the sale of their art stays with the artists. We are happy that the art fair draws many people to the Oshkosh area and has been an event that art lovers attend year after year. The money the club raises from modest artist and vendor entry fees is used to support the arts in the Oshkosh area.”
OFAA members enjoy the arts and sharing that passion with others. Part of each monthly meeting is spent learning about the many art mediums, so programs are scheduled, along with monthly workshops where artists-to-be can learn a new skill, and seasoned artists can participate and improve on their skills. Never lacking for new ideas, the group also enjoys bus trips and outdoor painting get-togethers.
The OFAA currently has 50 members and invites anyone with an interest in and a joy for the arts to attend a meeting, held September through June on the first Tuesday of the month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Oshkosh Senior Center’s Willow Room. People of all ages are welcome. The meetings are open to the public, and you do not have to be a working or professional artist to become a member.
Mark your calendar for Sunday, June 8, and plan to attend the Winnebagoland Art Fair at South Park, located at 800 W. South Park Avenue at the corner of Georgia Street and South Park Avenue. Held rain or shine, this event is FREE and will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ν
Erin Heiling is an arts aficionado who stays involved through photography, design, writing and working on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus.