Location, location, location.
It’s why many artists travel across the country, or just the county, to be a part of the Crosby Arts Festival on the 66-acre grounds of Toledo Botanical Garden.
“It’s a beautiful location; you couldn’t ask for a better setting,” said fiber artist Cyndy Naylor, of Villa Hills, Ky., who will have a booth at Crosby this weekend for the seventh time.
Retired Ottawa Hills art teacher Steven Wipfli doesn’t have to drive as far as Naylor to set up at the festival, which he will do for the third time.
WHAT: Crosby Festival of the Arts
WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday (Garden Party); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Drive
COST: Saturday and Sunday, $8 at the event; $7 discounted through Friday at Meijer stores.
The Friday evening Garden Party is a ticketed event, $100. For tickets, go to toledogrows.org/events/event-crosby-festival-of-the-arts.
PARKING: Free shuttle service from Meijer on Central Avenue; handicap parking on-site.
“I love being part of a show that is all about art and nature,” he said. “If you are exhibiting on concrete all summer, it’s a lot different than when you are surrounded by trees on green grass.”
Both are part of the 53rd rendition of the state’s oldest outdoor juried art festival, whose management has undergone a change of hands this year after Toledo Area Metroparks in 2017 took over daily operations of Toledo Botanical Garden, or TBG, from the city of Toledo. Part of the transfer agreement was that the Metroparks would continue both the long-running Crosby show and the Jazz in the Garden series.
The Garden, at 5403 Elmer Drive, began in 1964 when George P. Crosby donated 20 acres to the city to create a public park and a nonprofit board was established a few years later to oversee the garden’s operation and programming.
Although Toledo GROWS has always shared in both the festival’s set-up and fund-raising in years past as a program of TBG, the community garden outreach program this year oversaw operations of the festival on its own. The goal this year is to raise about $100,000 after expenses, which will help fund Toledo GROWS educational programs for gardeners, community groups, schools, and youth organizations, said Yvonne Dubielak, executive director of Toledo GROWS.
Dubielak said visitors to the 53rd event over the weekend won’t notice much difference: “It’s the same beautiful place.” The Friday night ticketed event has undergone a layout change after organizers decided to break up the single food area into different areas that are sprinkled throughout the artist booths. Each area will offer eats from local establishments, local entertainment, drinks, and patio-style seating.
“We listened to what the artists had to say, and they said that on Friday night, people are focused on the food and maybe not getting to all of the artists. So we said we will bring the food to you,” she said.
When the Crosby show opens Saturday to the general public, it welcomes 201 artists in the usual, wide variety of media categories: ceramics, jewelry, glass, painting, mixed media, wood, fiber, sculpture, graphics, and photography, Dubielak said.
Every year is considered a clean slate. About 20 art jurors made up of local studio artists, professors, and teachers combed through the applicants’ artwork. Three jurors graded the work of each artist, who remained anonymous to them throughout the selection process.
“We had more than 400 artists apply. There are some who are just really quality artists, and they make it in every year,” Dubielak said. “Then we had some this year that said ‘I haven’t made it in the last few years, so I’m really excited.’ So there is some change every year.”
Naylor, 67, owner of Sassy Sacks, creates one-of-a-kind handbags with different fibers, including crochet trims, hand dyed yarns and custom fabrics. A native of Cincinnati, she said most of the shows she applies to are located in Ohio, including Crosby.
Wipfli, 66, achieved his goal to work on and exhibit his art after retirement, which came three years ago after teaching art for 38 years, most of it at Ottawa Hills Local Schools district.
He said he was inspired to work in his medium somewhat subconsciously, after visiting a contemporary quilt show and a decorative paper store and being inspired by the many colors and idea of collecting and repurposing materials. The subject matter of his work, ranging from greeting cards to large framed pieces, transforms from abstract geometric composition to pieces that suggest landscape through color and shape experimentation. He hand cuts everything.
“I’m not elitist at all; I will find papers anywhere — ripped out of magazines, gift wrap, scrap papers, any kind of art papers,” he said.
Although he enjoys meeting a new customer base at out-of-town shows, knowing that your work is in the home of a local family who visits the Crosby show, stops by to chat with the artist, and takes home one of your pieces, is rewarding, Wipfli said.
“That’s a very strong connection, very gratifying,” he said.
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