An excited buzz of the crowd eagerly anticipating entrance into the Sawdust Art Festival grounds for this past Tuesday’s preview night signals a summer ritual that artists and art-enthusiasts alike look forward to.
The Sawdust Art Festival returns for its 49th summer in the eucalyptus-adorned setting in Laguna Canyon that overflows with crowds, yet mysteriously spacious enough for movement. The scene opens to the public Friday, June 26, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m
Step through those doors and the aroma of wood chips will provide the welcome to over
200 featured artists selling nearly every medium, including painting, photography, glass, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, woodwork, textiles, clothing, furniture and prints. While a majority of the artists will be recognizable to avid Sawdust-goers, 20 new exhibitors are experiencing their first year.
This is the case for Sawdust artist, Natasha Weir even though her roots in the festival reach back to before her birth.
“My parents have been in the show since before I’ve been born and my mother literally went into labor while she was here,” laughed Weir.
Cartoonish watercolor and realistic graphite drawings covering the walls of her booth provide an intriguing juxtaposition that puts Weir’s range of abilities on full display. While Sawdust is a familiar second home to Weir, she remains excited for the new opportunity to exhibit her own work as an established artist and make this experience her own.
“I get the chance to show everyone for the first time what I’m capable of. Growing up here, everyone’s already seen my little cartoons over the years, but now I finally get a chance to show, not only the Sawdust community, but the Laguna community as well,” says Weir.
Similarly, artist Jeff Lavinsky is experiencing his first year exhibiting at the festival. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid so I’m really excited,” says Lavinsky.
Lavinsky specializes in what he calls, “spiritual artwork” that largely features paintings on exotic wood canvases of intricate mandalas overlaid with animals, representing the ego.
“Everyone connects with animals. It’s raw and it speaks to everyone on a fundamental level,” muses Lavinsky.
Visiting his booth will also provide an interactive experience as he has designed his booth to be reflective of a ship. Wood paneling lines the inner walls and a nook with a captain wheel allows any passerby to be the captain of the room. An outer porthole and a ship bell bring the theme together and provide a unique environment for Lavinsky’s display of art.
Among the fresh batch of artists are a majority of familiar faces that have returned to Sawdust for another summer. Brynne Cogorno is such a veteran who is exhibiting for her seventh summer. Cogorno is a screen-printer that sells print tank tops and quirky eco-friendly cards. These cards are made with plant fibers and cotton and embedded with wildflower seeds so that the finished product can actually be planted. While Cogorno is familiar with the Sawdust experience, she continues to recognize the significant opportunity it provides.
“The Sawdust—this line of work—is me. I put so much work into my art, but I get so much in return. So, I think it is such a special art show for that reason,” says Cogorno.
Beyond the opportunity to exhibit her work, Cogorno cherishes the relationships formed with other artists and customers alike. Her booth features a quote board that is changed weekly and opens the doors to deeper connections.
“Sometimes people will come in and start crying and say, ‘Your quote is exactly what I needed to read today.’ It means a lot to me to inspire other people,” says Cogorno, gesturing to the C.S. Lewis that was currently scrawled in chalkboard script.
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, the festival will feature a number of special events throughout the summer including live entertainment, auctions, artist demonstrations and classes for a range of ages.
In addition, the Sawdust Studio Art Classes will continue to be offered every Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the upstairs studio. Ticket prices range from free for children to $8.50 for adults. Season passes can also be purchased for $18 or $24. For a full schedule, ticket prices and more information, visit www.sawdustartfestival.org.
Indy intern Torie Hamilton is a Biola University student.
A photo caption in the June 26 edition about the opening of the Sawdust Festival incorrectly identified the subject. She is Muffin Spencer Devlin.