Arts, Community, Park Forest

Park Forest Art Fair Celebrates its 61st Year

art fair models show hats
Models show off newly-juried artist Jill Debardelanen’s “up-cycled” hats. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)
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Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Boasting a rich history and wealth of gifted artists, along with status as one of the Southland’s most valued annual treasures, the Park Forest Art Fair, sponsored by Tall Grass Arts Association (TGAA), in September celebrates its 61st year, Sept. 17 and 18, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, in Downtown Park Forest on the Village Green.

For three years in a row, the Park Forest Art Fair has won the national “America’s Best Art Fair Awards” competition sponsored by, the #1 website for art fair event listings. Named as one of the “Best Overall Art Fairs”, the survey recognized Park Forest Art Fair as one of the best small, juried, fine art fairs in the country.

The artists hail from all over the metropolitan area. This year TGAA is pleased to introduce several new artists.

Jill Debardelanen is a fabric artist living in Chicago Heights. She creates hats and scarves out of what she calls “up-cycled” materials. Jill learned to sew from her mother when she was four years old. She remembers the materials her mother used, such as wool gabardine, were very high quality. “Today,” Jill says, “those wonderful fabrics are not available or terribly expensive,” so she shops in thrift stores for them. Jill sells at the One-of-a-Kind Show in McCormick Place, at fine art fairs and her artworks are available in the Tall Grass Arts Association Gift Shop.

Park Forest artist Georgeann Davis specializes in hand-made glass beads. She describes herself as self-taught, having been inspired by seeing torch work at the Renaissance Faire. She creates her beads, known as “lampwork”, in her backyard. She introduces glass to flame then places them in a kiln at a high temperature and lets them cool slowly. Beth sells her beads to other artists but shows her completed work at fairs. Besides the Park Forest Art Fair, her jewelry will be on sale in the TGAA holiday show.

Traveling from Madison, Wisconsin, Bill and Sharon Redinger are a watercolor team. She studied graphic design and he was interested in screen-printing but in working together, they both gravitated to watercolor. Showing their work in art fairs, they typically show smaller works, many featuring fruits and vegetables. “We spend a lot of time in our kitchen,” explained Sharon. “So, naturally much of our art reflects that and we love the lines and colors of fruits and veggies.”

Sheri Kowalski, a photographer from Detroit, recently gave up the life she knew in order to travel the world solo for a year. She sold her house and quit her eleven-year career with a major television network in order to start a new life. Photography was her passion and she embraced it as her destinations sparked her inspiration. Her photography tells the story of her solo trip around the world. Sheri hopes that “her collection evokes a sense of wanderlust – awakening a longing (in others) to explore”. She feels great when other people have been inspired to take steps in living their dreams as she has done.

“This is the second oldest juried art fair in the Chicagoland region and it has maintained its quality over the years,” event Chairwoman Janet Muchnik said. Muchnik emphasized the event always attracts a variety of talents, “some new artists and many who have exhibited continuously for nearly four decades.

“Fair visitors have a tradition here of talking with the artists and in fact, the artists expect people to stop by and chat.

As a not-for-profit event with a huge volunteer force, costs to artists are very low. “Consequently, they can sell their works at very reasonable prices. This is the fair where people can buy originals for very reasonable prices.”

The eclectic nature of the fair is quickly visible to visitors who will see ceramics, etchings, sculpture, photographs, paintings in many media, digital art works, jewelry featuring original elements, and hand-blown glass. A glass blower will demonstrate this ancient art.

A new addition to the fair, this year, is the Kids’ Art Alley. It will offer a vast range of activities to delight the younger set, including the almost legendary Children’s Art Contest, self-portraits, castle building, crafts and more.

Art Fair Music

Music plays an important role in the Park Forest Art Fair. For the third year in a row, the Village will host a music fest on Saturday, September 17 on the Village Green. The fest will feature Blues Kids from 11:30 a.m. to noon performing America’s root music. Breezy Radio and the Coolers will play reggae from 12:15 to 1:25 p.m. Muzicnet’s Jazz Band, the teaching staff at Muzicnet School who have performed world-wide, performs from 1:45 to 2:55 p.m. Rebecca and the Trainmen, an Indie-Americana band, currently working on their second album, opens at 3:15 and plays until 4:25 p.m. The fest concludes with The Big Boppers, featuring rock and roll from the 50s all the way up to today’s top hits, from 4:45 until 6:00 p.m.

Fest favorite, Patchouli, will perform on Sunday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. This duo performs folk music all day and their multiple CDs will be available for sale.

Patchouli will take a break at 2:30 so the Grand Prairie Choral Arts Group can perform. Under the baton of Jo Rodenburg, they will perform several short popular and traditional selections.

Food vendors will be on site including El Toporo, Southland Catering and Princess Catering.

The acclaimed Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery, 367 Artists Walk in Downtown, will be open during the fair with a traditional summer exhibit of works by gallery artists.

More information is online at, on the Tall Grass Facebook page and by calling the gallery, 708-748-3377.