By Kristin Boza
After a pandemic hiatus, the Ridge Park Art Fair and Uprising Solstice Market are back, combining two events for a new look and offerings. The Ridge Park Advisory Council, John H. Vanderpoel Art Association, Beverly Area Arts Alliance, and Chicago Park District are partnering on the exciting new event on Sat., June 25, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Dr.
Irene Testa, director of the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association, is excited to keep the event free for both patrons and artists, meaning more profit goes into the artists’ pockets. Patrons will enjoy music, food, raffles, and a collection of 50 artists and artisans selling their unique creations.
The Ridge Park ceramic studio will also be hosting an open house by teacher and artist Vida Radic, and the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery will be open and showcasing rarely-seen works in an exhibit titled Women Artists in the Vanderpoel Collection.
“The response from the public and the artists has been overwhelmingly positive. My favorite part of the event is to see and hear people enjoying themselves and marveling at the fact that we have a world class art collection at Ridge Park. Each sponsoring organization makes their valued contributions that highlight their strengths,” Testa said. “Now more than ever, everyone is looking to reconnect as a community. We expect a great turnout and the vibe is one that BAPA has been promoting all along — Love Where You Live! We want to thank the Chicago Park District and especially Ridge Park Supervisor Tim Bus for making this event a reality.”
The Ridge Park Advisory Council is proud to be a part of the event sponsorship. In a statement, they said that historically Ridge Park hasn’t received the support it deserves from the Chicago Park District, so the RPAC was created to advocate for funds that have, to date, replaced a roof, windows, and installed water bottle filling stations, shower curtains, and Pickleball equipment. Their next effort is to advocate for the installation of an elevator so that everyone can enjoy the activities at the theater, gymnasium, and Vanderpoel Art Gallery, all on the second floor of the fieldhouse.
The Beverly Area Arts Alliance is also a sponsor of the event with their popular Uprising Solstice Market.
“Beginning in 2021, the Alliance made a commitment to make its events completely free of charge, including waiving artist and venue participation fees that traditionally fund event expenses, to better support its creative and small business communities,” said Monica Wilczak, one of the directors of the Alliance. “In lieu of these fees, which have underwritten past iterations of the event, a raffle of items donated by participating artists, in addition to private donations, will maintain the event’s goal of raising funds to support Ridge Park.”
Wilczak said that the Alliance is excited to bring its energy, ideas, and artists to the fair. “We hope this new event we are working on together showcases the best of each organization, celebrates community, and most importantly, supports local artists,” she said.
The majority of the participating artists are local, and the rest are from surrounding areas.
Libby Alexander. an abstract painter, illustrator, and cartoonist, is excited to present her work for sale at the Ridge Park Art Fair and Uprising Solstice Market. “I work really big most of the time, but I’ll primarily have smaller paintings available. I may also offer small one-line illustrations that I draw on the spot, like an abstract caricature artist,” she said. “Beverly has been my home for about six years and it’s wonderful to meet and make connections with my neighbors. It’s also amazing to tour the Vanderpoel Art Museum during the event. It’s such a treat to have access to the collection again after all this time.”
Matt Coglianese is a South Side Chicago-based photographer and digital artist who will be selling dye sublimated aluminum sheet metal prints of his Chicago themed artwork at the event. These prints come ready to hang and don’t need to be framed. “It’s really something you have to see in person to understand why I print my artwork this way,” he said. “I like the Ridge Park Art Fair because aside from the Beverly Art Walk coming up in September, there really is not much else in the way of large-scale art fests/exhibits on the South Side. Hopefully, these sorts of events can keep growing and encourage more things like this to happen on the South Side.”
Timeesha Magnus is a visual artist who paints women with bold colors and uses a range of mediums, such as watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media. She will be selling original paintings and prints, as well as tote bags and painted keychains. “I create art to inspire, encourage, and motivate my audience,” she said. “I enjoy meeting new people at the Fair and chatting about different goals, inspirations, life, business growth, and much more. You’ll be surprised by some of the conversations and great advice you receive from strangers and supporters!”
As a new mom to three-month-old Lamarr Lee (Marlee for short), Magnus wants to walk in her purpose. “I want to show my son that I will always strive to spread love, encouragement, strength and joy to others through my art and design. I’m so excited to share these experiences and learn his personality and strengths in the process. I believe art is really a therapeutic experience and life raft to many.”
View works by these artists and many more at the Ridge Park Art Fair and Uprising Solstice Market, Sat., June 25, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ridge Park.