Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts celebrates multiple art mediums

Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts celebrated all mediums of artwork Saturday and Sunday from Indiana Avenue to Lincoln Street. People of all ages crowded the streets, and musicians could be heard on stage from blocks away.

World travelers along with Midwestern folks set up tents along Fourth Street, displaying their artwork for all to see. Customers braved the heat as they asked artists about their artistic methods and queried about costs. Certain tents had flags hanging above them, announcing first, second and third places in each category.

Artists displayed their 3D creations, including lawn ornaments, stained-glass artwork and jewelry ranging from large turquoise rings to dangling earrings.

Autumn Aslakson from Livonia, Michigan has been creating pottery since kindergarten and has been selling at shows for 14 years. Her ceramics made with white stoneware clay won her third place in the 2D category.

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William Steffen’s woodworks were presented Sept. 3, 202,3 at Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts. He said making miniature dressers takes measurements, while making a vase is done by sight.

Taylor Satoski

Spencerville woodworker William Steffen sold wooden pens, walking sticks, vases and miniature dressers.

“I start on a wood pile and find an ugly piece of wood,” Steffen said.  “The more flaws it has the better.”

Randy Turner sold his glass blown pieces at the festival. He and his wife of 33 years, Joy, live and blow glass for their company, Larkfield Glass, on her family’s farm in Paris, Illinois.

The two met while studying for their master’s degrees, Joy in biochemistry and Randy in chemistry.

Joy said she took up pottery at a local crafts facility while attending graduate school. In an attempt to get closer to Randy, she invited him to a class.

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Randy was not a fan of pottery, so he instead took a glass blowing class at the same facility. He said he knew his background in chemistry was helpful to understand the heat and color processes.

Randy Turner said they turned the furnace on for the first time on Halloween of 2007.

“We started dreaming of our own studio, dreamed of it for 20 years before we finally got it.” Joy Turner said.

Randy Turner presents his favorite creation, a bowl with many colors, Sept. 3, 2023 at the Fourth Street Fair. He said his chemistry degree helps him during the process of blowing glass with colors.

Taylor Satoski

Today, nearby schools often take field trips to their farm so the children can learn about artwork, chemistry and entrepreneurship.

Joy strongly dislikes when adults tell children to give up on their artistic dreams to work for money, so she often gives the children what she calls a “follow your dream speech.”

“I’m good at math, and I do this,” Randy said.

A variety of visual artists were represented at the festival as well. Laura Gutzwiller from Valparaiso made framed artwork that resembled paintings but were made from wool. Chris Abigt from Ottumwa, Iowa was selling oil paintings. Robin Lauersdorf came to the festival with pencil drawings of pandas lounging on top of marshmallows and dinosaurs emerging from books.

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Photographer Richard Trager, who was born in Carmel, Indiana and spent 28 years in California, sold photos of doors, chairs and architecture at the festival. His photography focuses mainly on architecture, as he likes taking photos of rustic places that resemble paintings.

Photographer Richard Trager from Carmel, Indiana, is seen selling his photography Sept. 3, 2023, at the Fourth Street Fair. Trager has spent his time taking photos of architecture in 33 different countries.

Taylor Satoski

Trager said he has taken his photos while traveling in 35 countries including Vietnam, Portugal, Cuba, the Czech Republic and India three times.

Drawn artwork ranged from creepy to comical, especially with cartoonist Andrew Paavola from the Otter Be Happy Studio in Ohio.

Local organizations, like the Writers Guild at Bloomington, which offered poems on demand, also ran booths at the festival. Poets Mike Brockley and Jeff Pearson sat at their antique Royal typewriters, waiting for passersby to tell them about their life and receive a poem in return.

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