Art and Community Prevail at the Weekend’s Edgewater Arts Festival

Rachael Lombardo | The PhoenixVisitors perused stands at the Edgewater Arts Fest on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

Uplifting music and the pattering of rain on white tent tops filled the air outside of the Granville CTA Red Line stop this weekend. Art ranging from paintings and photographs to jewelry and sculpture flooded the street. Even as they huddled together for warmth in the dreary weather, people who made it to the seventh annual  Edgewater Arts Festival had smiles on their faces. 

The festival, which took place Sept. 28 and 29, was a gathering for Chicagoans to celebrate art and community. With more than 100 artists and two stages for live musicians, the fest gave up-and-coming and veteran artists alike a place to display their work. 

The art at the festival was diverse, with each tent having something unique to share. Not only were people sharing art they had already created, but some artists were sharing their skills live. One tent was dedicated to a man spray painting sculptures in front of an audience. 

Steve Connell’s tent garnered a lot of attention at the fest. A digital finger painter who recreates popular Chicago spots at night with bright lights and fun colors, much of his art was displayed on large canvases and even coaster sets. All of his work is created using an iPad app and his finger. 

“My stuff — I think — really appeals to true Chicagoans,” Connell said.

Much of his work depicts places many people from the area would recognize, including The Aragon Ballroom (1106 W. Lawrence Ave.) and Central Camera (230 S. Wabash Ave.)

Along with Connell’s art, many other tents displayed vibrant photographs and paintings of the town, making the event feel like a true ode to Chicago. 

Edgewater is known for its diverse and artistic crowd, and that was evident at the festival. The event is special to many people, especially those who have lived in the neighborhood a long time. 

“It’s my neighborhood, it’s my community,” said Barbara Craig, a first-time volunteer and long-time attendee. 

Craig has lived in Edgewater for more than 40 years and embodied the pride many people have for their home. 

Connell, who’s from Lakeview, said he thinks highly of the neighborhood and art festival, too. 

“[Edgewater] is a real classic Chicago neighborhood so you get that eclectic mix of the neighborhood itself and I think that stands out,” he said. 

Those who appeared at the festival this year sported grins on their faces while pointing out vibrant paintings and trying on dainty, handmade jewelry, but the sudden bout of cold and misty weather affected the festivals turnout, according to Craig. 

“Last year, even in the heat, there were triple the [amount of] people here,” Craig said. 

Craig said in years prior, the festival pulled thousands of visitors over the weekend, but this year the streets seemed slightly empty due to the weather. 

Even so, families and kids who attended danced in front of the stage and participated in a live puppet show. People roamed from tent to tent, admiring the artwork of the community. 

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