The Park Forest Art Fair drew 58 artists over the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18, according to Kate Pattinson, the event organizer and executive director of Tallgrass Art Gallery.
The artisans were both local and from out of town, and they included a Homewood crafter who makes wood ornaments, a 2011 H-F graduate who illustrates characters in pop culture and a Glenwood artist who makes fabric dolls.
Ray Lickhaupt, an 86-year-old Homewood resident, had segmented, wood ornaments for sale. Some of the ornaments were purely decorative while others could serve a practical purpose such as a vase or bowl.
For most of Lickhaupt’s life, he’s worked with wood, such as furniture and kitchen cabinets, he said. But since his retirement 22 years ago, he’s had the time to be more creative with his woodworking, Lickhaupt said.
Lickhaupt cuts different pieces of wood of various shapes and tints. He glues the visibly different segments together to make one ornament – often forming patterns.
Some of the ornaments have lines that Lickhaupt painted with a brush. Others are more brightly colored and have a metallic appearance. Lickhaupt said this was because of the mica powder particles he had added to the surface.
“It’s a labor of love for me. I just love making the things,” Lickhaupt said. “I’ll go in with sort of an idea of what I want to do but that isn’t necessarily the way it’s going to work out. So, I let the wood do the talking.”
Lia Jackson, the H-F grad, moved to Chicago Heights with her fiancé last year, but she is originally from Homewood. She was selling framed prints and original canvases with pop culture themes.
Jackson had a piece with iconic horror movie monsters such as Freddy Krueger, Ghostface, Pennywise the Clown and Michael Meyers. She had a mashup of the characters from the movie Mean Girls drawn in the style of the Disney Channel cartoon The Proud Family. Jackson was selling an illustration of Batman surrounded by the hands of various Batman villains who she said, “get close but can never touch him”.
“Most of my pieces were intended to be in my woman cave. Enough visitors came over and enjoyed it that I started mass producing it and selling it,” Jackson said.
Jackson said this was her first time selling art at an art fair. She won the Directors Award, which signified a judge considered her a favorite artist at the fair.
Jataun Rollins, a Glenwood resident and clinical social worker, was selling handcrafted dolls made from fabrics. She said she’s been making dolls since 2018, and they imitate the likeness of real people.
The dolls at Rollins’ booth had names – Jai, Maggie, Tessa, Alyssa, Rain, Audrey, Claire, Marilyn and Meesha. Tessa is named after a character in the movie Creed. Audrey is named after Audrey Hepburn. Marilyn is named after Marilyn Monroe.
Two of the first dolls Rollins sold were for a clinician friend of hers in Connecticut, she said.
“She had African American clients, and she never had a doll for them to play with during therapy,” Rollins said. “You see on my dolls the full lips. I’m not going to get away from it. Black folk mostly have full lips.”
Shortly afterwards, Rollins started making more dolls for a wider variety of customers.
“I started it with these being African American dolls because there’s not a lot of representation out there,” Rollins said. “But when I came to this fair in 2019, people were like ‘Where are the Hispanic dolls? Where are the white dolls?’ And I was like ‘okay’. So, I started to vary the shades and the looks of the dolls so that they were more amenable to more people.”
Rollins said her grandmother used to stroke a doll when she had dementia, and this was soothing to her. She said social justice and a message of “it’s okay to be who you are” are central to her craft.