The Lansdale Fun A Day art show is not your typical black-tie art gallery affair. In fact, it’s held in the upstairs ballroom of a local pub.
“It’s better than going to an art museum,” Matt Rosenfeld, a Blue Bell resident, said. “This is less formal, more relaxed, and a different crowd of people.”
While this was Rosenfeld’s first visit to the art show, of the hundreds of visitors that attended this year, many have made it a point to return.
“I think these shows are great, because you get a lot of different artists from different perspectives,” Mike Omensetter, of Hatfield, said. “It’s not your traditional, mainstream, mass-produced art. It’s much more personal with these artists.”
Omensetter said that he became passionate on attending local art shows, after his artist friend invited him to see last year’s Lansdale Fun A Day.
He said that he appreciates the time in which first-time art show attendees may have with an artist, and enjoys the limitless creativity of the artists.
“The more I come to them, the more I realize the diverse talents of everyone,” Omensetter said. “Even though not all I would hang in my house, I can appreciate the time they put in to this.”
Art is Fun
Entering the show floor of the Lansdale Fun A Day is not a quiet experience. From the second visitors walked into the Third and Walnut Bar ballroom, located in Lansdale, they were immersed with the sights and sounds of art.
Without the aid of special accentuating lights or blank white walls, familiar in art galleries, artists simply placed or hung their work on tables and retail stands along the perimeter of the ballroom.
The resulting effect for visitors was a personal tour of both art and artists. At the head of the ballroom stood a small stage where musical artists performed for the whole evening.
Each artist participated in the Fun A Day challenge. The challenge was for artists to create art every day in the month of January, after which they would be encouraged to showcase their work — the idea behind the effort being that the artist to have fun.
“It’s the product of me not getting sleep,” Lansdale Fun A Day artist Kynn Peterkin said, smiling.
He was referring to his pencil, ink and Photoshop drawing of a comically terrifying, one-eyed shark, bursting from the waves to attack unsuspecting beach-goers. The drawing has the title “Wrath of the Sharklops.”
Peterkin, as well as other artists, seemed eager to show off and share what it was like to produce art for the Fun A Day challenge.
“It was a lot of fun playing with a lot of mediums,” Chelsea Allen, of Worcester, said. As a first-year student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Allen said she enjoyed the Fun A Day challenge, as it was a departure from regimented and structured art classes.
“This was more freeing,” she said.
Fun A Day artist, Bobbi Shaw also took the month-long challenge to experiment with her art. Using her children’s used paper, she created homemade paper as a new canvas for her acrylic and water-color paintings.
“It was a pretty fast process,” Shaw said. “I loved it.”
Amy Rims, a multi-media artist and former Lansdale resident, started the Lansdale Fun A Day event last year as part of the nationwide Fun A Day challenge.
While there is a Philadelphia-based Fun A Day event (where the art challenge started), Rims wanted to see artists local to the Montgomery County area have their own Fun A Day show.
“I think this was a huge success,” Rims said of the 2013 show.
The art show, which took place Feb. 8, hosted more than 15 artists from across the county.
Rims said she believes that both artists and visitors alike show their support of the Lansdale Fun A Day for its easy accessibility to an engaging evening of art.
“It’s gratifying that we have a grass-roots effort that brings great art out into the community,” said Andy Szekely, mayor of Lansdale and Fun A Day artist.
He added that while the Third and Walnut upstairs ballroom makes for a “beautiful venue,” it is unfortunate that Lansdale does not have a proper art center to showcase local talent.
Art in Motion
In addition to celebrating the arts, Rims said that the Fun A Day is also a chance for local artists to network, resulting in more shows and more opportunities for the public to see art.
According to Rims, the 2012 Lansdale Fun A Day produced at least five more art shows last year, due to the initiatives of those artists. She had referred to such shows as “art in motion.”
“I have made connections here, more than at any other art show,” Kim Saddel, a multi-media artist, said. “Here, we get to pick each others brains. We get to see the mind behind the paintings”
Saddel, of Souderton, is a returning Lansdale Fun A Day artist.
She has participated in several shows, from the Skippack area to smaller shows in Philadelphia, and finds out about these shows through word-of-mouth. She said after last year’s Fun A Day, she was able to connect and collaborate with other Fun A Day artists to help produce the subsequent local art shows of the same vein as the Fun A Day.
She said that artists may better appreciate the relaxed atmosphere and interaction with visitors, as candid conversations often lead to better art.
“The feedback is incredible,” Saddel said. “They tell you if it’s good or not. Then I can do something to improve it.”
Other Lansdale Fun A Day artists say they simply like not having to travel far just to show their work.
“You don’t see a lot of things that involve art anymore,” said Matt Hilend, an illustrator and graphic designer of Audubon. He added that arts and cultural venues mere miles outside of Philadelphia become sparse in the suburbs, and is grateful for opportunities like the Lansdale Fun A Day.
“You have so many talented people here,” said Hilend, a 2012 graduate of Hussian School of Art. “And, when you put the framework together for something like this, it’s a godsend.”
The one main feature that both the Lansdale Fun A Day and traditional galleries share is the fact that most showcased artwork was for sale. While most of the participants didn’t consider themselves as professional artists, all were delighted and encouraged when visitors would purchase their art.
In addition to individual sales, participating artists also donated their work for a silent and live auction held at the end of the event. Proceeds from the auction went towards funding the intended 2014 Lansdale Fun A Day. Many artists were more than happy to depart with their work for such a cause.
“I would like to thank Amy for the opportunity. It’s a great experience,” said Scott McMaster, who creates unique birdhouses from gourds.
True to the event’s mission of encouraging local artists, McMaster, of Lansdale, was given the opportunity to showcase his artwork for the first time.
As he considers himself a “part-time amateur artist,” and full-time environmental sciences student, McMaster said that he didn’t quite know how well his artwork would appeal to the public or other artists.
“It’s very exciting. When I first walked in, I saw everybody’s art, and I thought how great everyone was, and it made me nervous,” McMaster said. “But, once people started taking an interest, I felt more confident.”
“And, I sold a lot of stuff,” he added with a grin.
His sister, McMaster-Heffintrayer, who invited him and another artist to the show, said she hopes the word gets out and even more artists come to next year’s Lansdale Fun A Day.
“Our goal every year is to bring another friend, and another, so we can make it an all-day event,” she said.
For more information about the Lansdale Fun A Day, visit the event’s Facebook Page.