If you want a piece by revered local artist Delma Tayer, it’s generally going to cost real money.
Tayer produces mostly large-scale paintings and collage, and she has a strong following. But you can get a card-size Tayer piece this Saturday at June Art Fest for under $20.
“I did smaller pieces for this show,” she said. “I’ve been working for months and months.”
There will, of course, be larger, more expensive pieces, from Tayer as well as the Art Fest’s other 21 artists. It’s the variety that makes the event so much fun; it sort of splits the difference between a formal gallery show and an arts-and-crafts fair.
June Art Fest started seven years ago at the home of artist Rob Blackaby and moved to the Chalet Place Mall several years ago. The idea was to provide the best local artists an opportunity to sell their wares outside of a gallery setting.
Several of the original participants, including Tayer and Blackaby, still make it to the Art Fest annually. But it has grown quite a bit since that first year. There are four new artists among this year’s 22, including metalworker Kevin Kuntz, whom Art Fest regular John Barany is particularly happy to have on the team.
“You’re going to see more of Kevin,” Barany said. “He doesn’t know how far down his talent goes. I do.”
New artists such as Kuntz require approval from the existing Art Fest participants before they’re allowed to join.
“That really keeps the quality up,” said Lucy Valderhaug, a jewelry artist and Art Fest veteran.
That is important, because for all the fun of interacting with artists in an informal setting, there is some very serious art to be found at the event. Some of the most accomplished artists in Central Washington participate, a list that includes Bob Fisher, Carol Hassen, Rachel Dorn, Duane Heilman and Penn O. Shelton.
“It’s unique,” textiles artist Nancy Gabriel said. “You go to one place, and you get to see and talk to everybody in one fell swoop.”
And it seems as though both the artists and the visitors are more at ease than they would be in a more traditional art exhibit setting, she said.
“Galleries can be intimidating,” Gabriel said. “There’s a certain air, whereas this is a very nonjudgmental situation.”
That atmosphere has a twofold effect: It brings people back year after year, including those the artists never see at gallery shows, and it attracts new people who wouldn’t otherwise see the art at all.
“That’s one reason I do it,” said Barany, who is primarily a woodworker. “People come back because they enjoyed it last year. I see the same folks.”
“I see a lot of people I know but who never go to gallery openings,” she said. “And they buy. I’ve sold major pieces to people who never go to galleries.”