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The Sixty-First Old Town Art Fair

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Editor’s note: The Old Town Art Fair is listed on the Artsiest of the Art Fairs post, and I want to make it clear they got that spot fair and square. One of our freelancers curated the list — but honestly, it would be on anyone’s list, as it’s considered one of the “biggies”.

Old Town Art Fair Poster, featuring photo from Alan Klug

The Old Town Art Fair: 2010

Every year about this time Old Town goes a little crazy—understandably. On the second weekend in June, the whole neighborhood gears up for the annual Old Town Art Fair, this year to be held on the 12th and 13th. The streets and parkways are cleared of the previous winter’s detritus. Gardens are planted. Venerable old houses get a facelift with fresh paint and flower boxes. Old Town Art Fair posters appear in every front window. And it’s hi-ho, off to the fair.

First Sight Friday Night

This year, as it has for the past five years, the fair kicks off with a benefit and preview party, First Sight Friday Night. This is the premier social event of the Old Town season. Held at A New Leaf Studio, 1818 N. Wells, guests will mingle, munch on fabulous canapés from Perennial Restaurant, sip a created-for-the party special cocktail: One More for the Road, and browse the incredible art work supplied by exhibitors in the Old Town Art Fair for a Silent Auction. Art Fair General Chair, Chris Beer and Vice Chair, Emily Rose, will be on hand to meet and greet the revelers, as will First Sight Co-Chairs Jacqui Thams, Paige Hungerford, and Shirley Baugher. Favorite Old Town socialite Candace Jordan (Candid Candace) serves as Honorary Chair of the event. Tickets to the party are $65 if purchased before hand at www.oldtownartfair.org and $70 at the door. It’s definitely a Don’t Miss!

Party guests bid on silent auction items at First Sight Friday Night

The 61st Annual Old Town Art Fair

On June 12th and 13th, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., comes the piece de resistance, the Old Town Art Fair. There are a lot of reasons why this fair is so special. Here are just a few. The Old Town Fair is one of the oldest juried outdoor fairs in the country. It was begun in 1950 as a neighborhood party. The art fair was almost an add-on. The fair was called the Old Town Holiday: an Outdoor Arts and Crafts Event. The definition of art was stretched to its outer limits. Anyone who wanted to could enter, and participants displayed their art on fences and tables on Lincoln Park West and its two adjacent alleys. Seventy exhibitors showed everything from crocheted potholders to high quality paintings. Not only was the event great fun, it was a smashing success—so much so that there was another fair the next year—and the next—and the next. the fair has grown to become a national phenomenon. Two-hundred-sixty artists, jury- selected from nearly 800 applicants, display their works in tents that line the streets of the Old Town Triangle: Menomonee, Lincoln Park West, Orleans, and Wisconsin. It is a veritable Gallery Under the Trees. And the art that is displayed is nothing short of spectacular: oil, pastel, and watercolor paintings , sculpture, wood working, photography, ceramics, fiber, stone, jewelry, and print-making. Seven gates will take you into this gallery, with the primary one located at Lincoln and Wisconsin. To see the others, go to the Art Fair website, oldtownartfair.com. A donation of $7.00 is requested of visitors over 12.

Relax to an eclectic mix of local talent at the Old Town Art Fair's Music Stage, located at Wisconsin and Menomonee

While the art is the raison d’etre of the Old Town Art Fair, there are other special features to attract visitors. There is a Children’s Corner that offers fun for the whole family: a magic and mad science show, hands-on art experiences, take-home crafts, music, demonstrations, and much more. So all you parents who are wondering whether or not to bring the kiddies, wonder no more. They are both welcomed and wanted.

The Music Stage just keeps getting bigger and better. Under the direction of impresarios Pete Greenwood and Shawn Rios, this year’s acts include the incomparable Sounds of Sweetness from Walter Payton College Prep High School, Mazes, L’Orchestre Super Vitesse, the Bon Mots, Pretty Good Dance Moves, Go Long Mule, Rachele Eve, Adam Fitz, and Via Tania. The Music Stage is located in the Ogden Mall just off Wisconsin and Orleans.

Old Towners invite you to stroll through the Gallery of Gardens. Every year, a group of neighbors proudly display what can be done on just a few feet of earth in an urban environment. To say that their efforts are amazing is an understatement. But, come and see for yourselves. The locations are noted on the program that is distributed at the gates. Should you feel hungry or thirsty while perusing the art or taking in the entertainment, eight food vendors are on hand to whet your appetites: Adobo Grill, Anthony’s Italian Ice, Carroll’s Corn Crib, Greek Delights, Grill on the Alley, Mediterranean Cuisine, Pronto ‘Za Pizza, and Special Events Food. The House of Glunz offers a selection of beers, wine, soft drinks, water, and juice.

Take a self-guided tour through fifty unique urban gardens at the Old Town Art Fair's Gallery of Gardens

Where We Are

Sometimes visitors are confused about exactly where the Old Town Art Fair is located. We have devised a simple phrase to help you out. We are NoNo—North of North Avenue. Should you look south of North Avenue, there is another fair going on—but that is the Wells Street Fair, held on the same week-end. Just repeat the mantra NoNo, walk north to Menomonee, Sedgwick, or Lincoln and you will have arrived.

For those who also wonder where the proceeds from the far are spent, you will be pleased to know that they go right back into the neighborhood: to further art and technology programs in our local schools; to maintain our trees and parkways; and to assure continuation of the historic character of Old Town.

June 12 is just around the corner. Mark your calendars for the Old Town Art Fair—and set your compasses to NONO. See you there.