Over the past couple of years, collage artist Kristi Abbott of St. Paul has been honing her technique and style, trying to develop a strong body of work. Abbott, who previously worked in the corporate world, only recently decided to pursue art full-time. She began showing her work late last year.

When her piece "Cassidy," a colorful portrait of a woman who looks a bit like a movie star, was chosen as the featured image for the Edina Art Fair this year, it seemed to affirm that she's on the right track. The fair is slated for June 5 to 7 at 50th and France.

Rachel Thelemann, executive director of the Edina Art Fair, and the 50th & France Business Association, which organizes the three-day event, said it was selected through a juried process.

The fair, which is now in its 49th year, uses the featured image on its promotional materials, including everything from advertisements to T-shirts.

"We thought it was fun," Thelemann said of "Cassidy." "If you look at it close up, it has so many amazing details," and it reproduces nicely. It's already garnered plenty of compliments, she said.

The annual fair, in which 300 artists participate, showcases a combination of fine art and high-end craft, including photography, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, wearable art and "green" art .

The Foot in the Fair exhibit, which showcases work from local middle and high school students, will be displayed gallery-style. That is, the 30 pieces will be mounted on easels inside the mall. That show is juried, as well, with ribbons going to the top pieces.

"The youth are potential artists one day at the art fair, so it's a good learning lesson for them to be honored and celebrated for their talents," Thelemann said.

It's another way that the fair is family-friendly, which sets it apart from others, she said.

For example, the Kids Zone, which takes over the Edina 5-0 parking lot, is a "parent oasis," she said.

It's busy with hands-on art activities, bouncy houses, a Velcro wall, puppet shows, live music and vendors, its website says. "Families can hang out, listen to music and eat, all in one location," Thelemann said.

A community art project and bike corral also make it more than an art show. The Lupus Foundation and VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People) are charitable partners this year.

Plenty to eat and drink

Food-wise, the fair is branching out with more specialty items such as paella and organic frozen yogurt, according to Allison Matthews, assistant director for the Edina Art Fair, and the 50th & France Business Association.

More traditional fare, such as cheese curds and corn dogs, also will be available. At the same time, "We really wanted to make the fair more foodie-focused," she said.

Matthews has been thinking about items that pair well with craft beers, such as maple bacon mini-doughnuts, which lend a "sweet and savory flavor," she said.

The Edina Grill is hosting a beer garden in the Edina 5-0 parking lot — also new this year. What's on tap? Freehouse brews.

"The food is just as important as the art, and it's an art form in its own right," Matthews said.

Creating 'Cassidy'

"Cassidy" is part of a series of a dozen pinup-like images that Abbott created, all in paper. Each has a name, which she picks once she gets a sense for the subject's "personality," she said.

"Cassidy" was modeled after her mother, who was a dancer and performer. "She used to have her hair coiffed so beautifully and nice, long fake eyelashes," Abbott said. "It pays homage to her."

Her father bought the original piece for her mother's birthday. "It's classic, a little playful and sassy," Abbott said. "Her face is so open. Her pose is really reflective of that."

The orange, brown and purple hues along with the camouflage reflect her mother's earthiness, while the background drips add a different dimension. "I love street art and graffiti art. The background evokes that in a way, the grittiness," Abbott said.

Usually, she works from photos, which she manipulates digitally, as a sort of initial sketch. Once she starts creating the final product, the pieces take on a more tactile quality as she layers different kinds of papers. The papers come from all over the place. "I have a lot of fun picking the right paper," she said.

Hollywood, fashion, design and theater are all influences, she said. Travel to her native Australia and life in Minnesota also inspire her, Abbott said.

What is she working on now? A series called "Minnesota Moments" about the seasons and the landscape, she said.

Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer. She can be reached at annaprattjournalist@gmail.com.