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A closer look at Art in the Square artists
Annual festival set for this weekend in downtown Gainesville
0916ARTSQUARE
Anita Elder of Dahlonega looks at jewelry at last year's annual Art in the Square festival in Gainesville. Elder, a painter, also had a booth at the art festival. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

On Saturday, in what has become an annual tradition, dozens of area artists will converge in downtown Gainesville for the annual Art in the Square festival.

The event will run from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the downtown square.

According to officials, this year promises to be the biggest in the event's seven-year history. More than 100 artists will be exhibiting their work. Vendor booths will be showcasing everything from bird houses to stained glass.

With such a vast buffet of artistic delights, it may be difficult to know where to begin, but here we offer a beginning with a little background on a few of the artists and their wares.

MARGARET CAMERON

Where some people see a utilitarian, screen door, Cameron sees a blank canvas.

"When we first moved to Georgia, we lived in an apartment for about a year. I painted a light house on the screen door of our second floor apartment," said Cameron, a Cumming resident.

"The next morning, traffic backed up because people were stopping to have a look."

After that, she knew that she was on to something with her "Baltimore screens" inspired work.

Baltimore screens were created in 1913 by William Oktavec, a shop owner who tired of his fresh fruits and vegetables going bad in their outdoor displays. Oktavec moved his goods inside, but painted pictures of what he had to offer on his shop's window screens.

"Customers discovered that they could see out, but people on the outside couldn't see in," Cameron said.

"The screens became quite the fad."

Although they fit their original purpose after being decorated, Cameron says that 90 percent of her customers hang the doors inside as folk art.

Each door takes around two weeks to complete. She has decorated the hangings with everything from hot air balloons, to wildlife and even holiday scenes.

PHIL FONTAINE

Fontaine's hand-crafted banjos prove that necessity is the mother of invention.

"I started playing the banjo around 12 years ago, at a time in my life when I was between jobs, so I couldn't afford a really nice one," said Fontaine, who lives in Lula.

"I kept looking at the real nice ones and realized that I could make one."

Although he was a novice banjo player, Fontaine had lots of wood-working experience. He's worked on everything from the interior of yachts to Napa Valley wineries.

While having an extensive wood-working background seems like it would guarantee a great end product, Fontaine says picking an outstanding instrument depends on personal tastes.

"Other than using quality parts, picking a good banjo is relative," Fontaine said.

"One person may love the sound of one, but then another person may not like it because it's not the tone that they are looking for."

Each banjo takes around 250 to 300 hours to complete, says the woodworker, who makes everything — except the metal parts - by hand.

HALL COUNTY QUILT GUILD

With the increased availability of store-bought goods, the number of quilters nationwide may have dwindled, but a group of Hall County crafters are making sure it doesn't die out.

"We're a dedicated group of ladies that meet once a month to keep quilting artistry alive," said Jean Leslie, guild member.

"We have a program each month where visiting quilt artists come to meet with us. Sometimes we also have workshops to learn new techniques."

In addition to keeping the art form viable, the guild has also been helping new residents at Eagle Ranch feel more at home.

"We've been making quilts for Eagle Ranch since 2000 - we make around 40 or more quilts for them each year," Leslie said.

"We make a twin-sized quilt for each of the boys and girls. We try to keep a supply of quilts out there, so that they can have different ones to choose from."

To help support their charitable work and other projects, the guild will be auctioning off a queen-sized quilt at Art in the Square.

"The quilt is very patriotic. There's an eagle with a flag behind it in the center of the quilt, and each of the states of the union are represented on squares surrounding it," Leslie said.

"We had it appraised and it's valued at $2,000, but the tickets for the drawing are only $1 a piece, or 6 tickets for $5."

 

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