VIDEO: Mountain/Plains Art Fair draws community support

Rob Burkett / Video Josh Rouse

Despite the sweltering heat Saturday, Topekans flocked to Washburn University to see all that a local annual cultural event had to offer.

The Mulvane Art Museum’s Mountain/Plains Art Fair took place June 5-6 on the lawn outside the Memorial Union at Washburn drawing 90 artists from around the midwest.

The event, a Washburn tradition that started 18 years ago, was well-attended Saturday as more than 1,200 people from the community came to see all the different displays set up across campus.

The event in the past has been a fundraiser that Friends of Mulvane, a non-profit group of supporters of the Mulvane Art Museum started out with just a handful of artists from around Topeka, and has grown today into an event that brings artists from as far away as Oklahoma and Arkansas to not only display, but also to compete.

“Artists submit their work via a CD they send to us and then after our jurists have a chance to review them then we narrow our field down to 90 artists and begin the process of inviting artists to come show and be judged for possible cash prizes,” said Jeanne Bertelson, trustee member of Friends of Mulvane.

The winners announced for the three divisions were; Eric Abraham, Best of Show (Porcelain); Nichole Collins, 3-D (Jewelry Work) and Dan Engler, 2-D (Watercolors).

The event also featured an area that families could unleash their children on in the form of the Children Art Center. Youth attendees were able to sit down and learn about how to put together interesting and colorful displays.

Live music also was a feature of this year’s event as Pastense, a bluegrass band along with WiseAcres, an acoustic folk-rock group and Bridges, a folk group spent time under the shade of the live music tent entertaining the fair attendees. Different renditions of songs like, “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'” and other pop standards as well as original music were performed.

The fair, which has been a mainstay of the summer for Topekans, has remained strong though even despite the tough economic times that the community finds itself in. Friends of Mulvane hopes to see the event continue to go strong in the future.

“We have been pretty happy that the amounts raised haven’t really declined at all since the economy has been struggling” said Lora Carlson, co-chair of Art Fair planning commitee for Friends of Mulvane, “We are looking forward to getting to work on next year’s fair and making it even better.”