Earth, Glass and Wax: Media Are Mixed and Many in Fine Arts Fest

Painter Jeff Schaller of Downingtown at work. His paintings will appear at this year’s Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, sponsored by the Community Art Center, being held on September 24.

Painter Jeff Schaller of Downingtown at work. His paintings will appear at this year’s Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, sponsored by the Community Art Center, being held on September 24.

The Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, presented by the Community Arts Center returns for a second year in Swarthmore on Saturday, September 24. Among more than 40 artists and artisans involved in this year’s Fine Arts & Craft Fest are these three diverse exhibitors from the Philadelphia area.

John Cheer of Allentown has spent several of his 18 years as a full time artist figuring out a process that would enable him to realize his artistic vision. “I’m one of those artists that has to use custom materials. I’m using my vision to find my materials, to find out how to make it happen.”

Producing work which incorporates liberal quantities of art glass into ceramic structures, Cheer says, “My work is ‘authentically unique,’ not just weird.”

Cheer once sold his work through galleries and in shops, but found he was spread too thin. “I especially value the experience of art shows, I like to talk to people about my work; that’s a commitment on both sides. I can get to know buyers, and become friends with them.”

Bonnie-Ann Burnett of Chester participated in last year’s Fine Arts & Crafts Fair in Swarthmore. A potter, sculptor, and photographer, she has lately concentrated in clay.Burnett says, “It is rewarding and exciting to be with people as they experience my work. They pick up a pot, rotate it in their hands, and some sort of alchemy happens. They are feeling what I felt as i was making it.”

After careers in the outdoors — as a farmer and a park ranger, among others, Burnett says, “Earth is an old friend. I dig my own clay and take my time shaping pieces from slabs of it.” As a professional artist for five years, Burnett is a member of the Potters Guild and has worked as a studio associate at CAC, which she calls a “true community-based arts center.”

Painter Jeff Schaller of Downingtown works in the challenging medium of encaustic, where pigment is mixed into molten beeswax, which sets soon after a mark is made on the canvas and retains its colors without fading or oxidizing. His work combines the originality and precision of his textured brushstrokes with flat, found images and textual elements. “I paint using things that already exist. I need to reflect on culture, past and present, as an arbiter of interpretation.”

Schaller’s work at the Fine Arts and Crafts Fair will also include silkscreened images which he creates and signs himself. These edgy pop pieces involve strong graphic images, some seemingly related and some juxtaposed surprisingly. “Outdoor art shows are a great way to introduce new work and get instant feedback,” Schaller says. “I spend a lot of alone time in the studio, so to be able to meet people and get their reactions when they view my work is refreshing.”

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