The Park Forest Art Fair in downtown Park Forest featured dozens of unique artists, some local and others who traveled from other states, on Saturday, Sept. 16 and Sunday, Sept. 17. Rainfall drenched the second day of the event, but Homewood mixed-media artist Jenn Johnson weathered the storm, determined to finish her first year of attendance.
Saturday was a sunnier day and successful in both attendance and sales, artists and organizers said. On Sunday, when the event began at 10 a.m., it rained on and off until shortly before the event ended at 5 p.m. Very few potential customers were walking around and looking at the artwork. By 3 p.m., only about 10 of the original 57 artists remained.
Some of the artists packed up and went home in the morning. Others couldn’t immediately pack up because their paintings and other artwork couldn’t get wet. As soon as the rain died down in the early afternoon, some of those who had stayed in the morning left.
“But some of them are sticking it out. Some of them are here until 5 [p.m.],” said Diana Cruz, president of the Tall Grass Arts Association which organized the event. “Those art fair artists – they like the interaction with people. And they’re still here.”
Johnson said her goal is to meet more artists and people with an interest in art she can share her work with. Even if the second day of the Park Forest Art Fair wasn’t nearly as busy as the first, the Homewood artist had no desire to leave.
“I’ve been painting for ages, but I’ve only started this more as a career for the past year,” said Johnson who is a 38-year-old elementary school art teacher.
Johnson uses acrylic paint to depict the natural landscapes of different places she’s traveled to – such as Maui, Colorado, Kansas, the Rock River in Illinois and Naples, Florida. Her paintings usually have wool that she needle felts and attaches to the piece, often representing the clouds.
Half of the proceeds from Johnson’s paintings of Maui are being donated to the Maui Strong Fund, helping those impacted by the recent wildfires.
Johnson also makes abstract designs. While she’s primarily a mixed-media artist, some of her pieces are made only with paint and others are made only with wool. The pure wool pieces she had for sale at the Park Forest Art Fair were on top of canvases, but she’s also made wool sculptures, she said.
“I’ve always loved sunsets and just watching sunsets,” Johnson said. “I want to try to show nature’s beauty. I always like to paint things that are really relaxing. And if I can make something that’s going to draw the viewer in and make them feel relaxed and calm, I think I’ve done my job.”