Artists, organizers gear up for Edina Art Fair

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2014 - 2:13 PM

It’s about 2 months away, but after a long winter, there’s already excitement building around one of summer’s premier events.

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A work by Michael Bond, who will be one of the artists at the 2014 Edina Art Fair.

In those days, everyone squeezed together on the sidewalk while traffic whizzed by amid all of the activity. “You’d step off the curb and come face-to-face with a bus,” he said.

Since then, the fair has become highly professional. But the thing Bond likes best about it is something that remains unchanged: “It has a neighborly feeling, even though it’s a big show,” he said.

Bond, who travels to the area from River Falls, Wis., is already starting to get ready for the fair, which will liven up the intersection of 50th Street and France Avenue S. from June 6 to 8.

He’s not the only one. The 50th and France Business and Professional Association, which plans the fair, is beginning to ramp up its publicity efforts. Recently, the group picked local artist Ashley Barlow’s brightly colored mixed-media work “Summer Dip” to grace the fair’s promotional materials.

The thriving Edina Art Fair, which is in its 48th year, signals art fair season in Minnesota. It’s the second-largest art fair in the state, just behind the Uptown Art Fair, according to event materials.

Each year, the fair makes way for more than 300 artists, according to Rachel Thelemann, executive director of the 50th and France Business and Professional Association.

Artists are chosen out of a pool of 800 applicants, and the exhibitors represent a diverse mix of all mediums and local and national artists, she said.

One of the fair’s greatest strengths is the variety of artwork on display, she said.

Drawings, ceramics, jewelry, wood carvings, photography, sculpture, glass, clothing — you name it, it can be found at the fair.

Some artists do high-end oil paintings, while others make “great lawn art,” she said, adding, “It’s a nice mix.”

That said, in recent years Thelemann has noticed more mixed-media and collage work at the fair. Garden art and unique jewelry and fashion items are also popular, she said.

Plus, the fair has a good track record for returning artists, and it’s always attracting new people.

Despite the sheer scale of the event, Thelemann does her best to make sure the layout is intuitive and familiar, even assigning exhibitors to the same locations whenever possible. That way, fairgoers can track down their favorite artists, she said.

Refining the fair

What’s new or different this year? For starters, the silent auction that started last year will have more of a gallery layout, with donated artwork on easels. “It gives people an opportunity to see those artists early and look for their booths in the fair,” she said.

The auction benefits the 50th and France association and the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, Thelemann said. The foundation also receives the proceeds from fair merchandise.

Even though the fair has long had family-friendly activities, last year the association took it up a notch by forming a “kid zone.” That’s coming back, with a bouncy house, Velcro wall, bungee jump, slide, entertainment and hands-on art projects, Thelemann said.

  • Edina Art Fair

    To learn more about the Edina Art Fair,which will be held June 6-8 this year, check out www.edinaartfair.com.

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