Crafting a Community: Edgewater Arts Festival Highlights Local Artists

Raven Walters | The PhoenixThe Edgewater community came together Sept. 17-18 in celebration of local artists.

During the bleak, cold winter, Darlene Hoftsra parts ways with her garden, relying on other creative outlets to fulfill her love for the outdoors.

Raven Walters | The Phoenix Darlene Hofstra uses jewelry making as an outlet during the winter.

“This is my winter garden,” she said while laughing. “My [business] name is Sun Sea Sky designs so I’m inspired by everything I see and just how it speaks to me, how the world speaks to me.”

Sitting behind an assortment of different stones all neatly laid out on tables, Hofstra, 65, fiddles with some pliers and wire.

 “I like to interact with people and I like to talk to them about the stones,” she said. 

This is Hofstra’s first time back at the Edgewater Arts Festival since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 Edgewater Arts Festival, held between Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, featured 22 artist booths spread throughout West Granville to North Winthrop avenues. Each booth highlighted original artwork from local artists and featured a stage at the end for live music.

Raven Walters | The Phoenix Hofstra believes her jewelry is a reflection of her love for the outdoors.

The festival had been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and reopened in 2021 with a smaller turnout, but this year artists returned to share their art and music with the public without COVID-19 restrictions. 

Clare McCabe, an Edgewater resident, surveyed the jewelry tents closely. She owns a large earring assortment and has been looking to add to her collection.

McCabe said this is her first time coming to the festival, and she enjoys supporting local artists and watching them create.

“It’s a cool way of getting everyone to come together and promote the arts, whether that be performing arts or fine arts,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s a great way to get community members to come out and support each other.” 

Artist Steve Connell said he thinks the festival creates a great sense of community, not just for the neighborhood but for the artists as well. 

Raven Walters | The Phoenix Steve Connell appreciates the communal aspect of the Edgewater Arts Fest.

“That’s one fun thing about doing these shows; you get to know the people around you,” Connell said. “You see them at other festivals so you get to know people.” 

Connell, 62, who has been participating in this festival for seven years, was promoting his newest series of paintings, which showcase Chicago venues during the nighttime. He said he started using an iPad to create his art a few years ago so he can print his paintings onto large canvases, metal or even coasters. 

“It’s a combination of that kind of late-night urban isolation feel and then just venues that people know and love,” he said gesturing to his collection.  

Connell said he enjoys selling his art directly to the public because he gets direct feedback as opposed to selling artwork to commercial clients — something he did out of college. 

Artist Paige Nolan said she gathers her inspiration from street art. Having grown up in St. Louis, she said seeing street art regularly influences her art style. 

Raven Walters | The Phoenix Paige Nolan gains inspiration from street art on telephone poles.

Nolan said the vandalism left on telephone poles is where she gathers her inspiration for her art style.

Hearing the stories behind the art is one of the reasons Chloe Michel enjoys her time as a volunteer for the event. She said hearing the music and seeing the art during the shift is entertaining for her. 

Sitting at a table next to the entrance, the 20-year-old said she volunteered at the festival last year and when asked if she would do it again she enthusiastically exclaimed she would.

All of the booths featured at the Edgewater Arts Festival seemed to be inspired by something personal to the artist. For Brandon Schaeffer, inspiration is drawn from comic books and cartoons.

Raven Walters | The Phoenix Brandon Schaeffer takes inspiration from comic books and cartoons.

“I’ve always done [art] since I was small enough to make my own homemade comic books,” Schaeffer said. 

He showed a piece of art called “The Muse” inspired by artist Alphonse Mucha. Schaeffer said there are 247 flowers in the piece and it took him close to 27 hours to create it. The artwork is an acrylic 20-by-30 portrait of a young woman in front of a colorful background.  

“Draw what you love and enjoy because that will come out in your work,” Schaeffer, 48, said. “You can tell you enjoyed yourself when you made it. It shows.”

Schaeffer wanted to share his passion for his art with the locals — he felt the event would help to get his art out there efficiently.

“If it even just allows me to make enough money to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.”
Up next in the world of art is the Randolph Street Market on Sept. 24. The vintage market will showcase European style antiques and is located at 1341 W. Randolph Street. Tickets are available ahead of time online.

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