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Creative minds showcase work in first day of festival

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Downtown Columbus played host to 90 artists and artisans Saturday during the first day of the fifth annual ArtFest.

Last year’s ArtFest drew an estimated 3,000 shoppers. With two festival days this year rather than one, the event concludes today. Organizer Bob Anderson said he hopes to double the number of shoppers from 2013.

Booths set up in the middle of Washington Street and both sides of Fourth Street showcased a variety of media from artists hailing from 16 states. Shoppers could find sculpture, jewelry or wearable art. Artists also displayed photography, oil paintings, mixed media, fiber arts and glass.

Kerri Bash, of Argos, set up at booth 41, displaying her oil paintings, many of which feature unicorns. This marks her second year at Columbus’ ArtFest.

She participates in about six art fairs a year, including the Penrod Arts Fair, which is two weeks away in Indianapolis.

Her motivation is two-fold.

“I want to meet good people and make some sales,” Bash said.

Much of her work bears messages of environmentalism and animal rights.

“It is always fun when we can spark a dialogue,” she said.

Shopper Renee Neukan came to ArtFest from Crawfordsville with her daughter Kourtney, who was looking for glittery earrings.

While it’s their fist year visiting the Columbus ArtFest, the Neukan family travels to a number of art festivals in Indiana, including ones in Madison and Lafayette.

“So far, it’s nice,” Neukan said. “And it’s beautiful outside as well.”

Hailing from Kissimmee, Florida, near Walt Disney World, Contave Casseus set up his hand-painted metal decorative signs, which are cut from steel drums, sanded and painted in Caribbean motifs.

Casseus has been on the art festival circuit since 1999, and the timing of Columbus ArtFest fit perfectly into his schedule.

“I like meeting people,” he said while displaying metal light switch plates in his booth. “I love talking to people, and I love to travel.”

At the corner of Fifth and Washington streets, Justin the Artistic Horse paced around his pen. Outfitted with glittery hooves and a freshly braided mane, Justin overturned his easel, proving that artists of all species can be temperamental.

Three years ago, owner Adonna Combs discovered that her Friesian horse, originally bred to carry knights into battle, wanted to paint.

Now in his second year at Columbus ArtFest, Justin has taken his painting demonstrations on the road to other art fairs, including a recent festival in Iowa. If he were a human, Combs said, his art would be categorized as Abstract Expressionism.

“His art is abstract,” Combs said. “It is very much in the moment.”

Also in the moment were creations at the kidscommons table, where children used beads and other materials to create small wind chimes.

Phuong Fay helped her godson, Finn Andreson, put the finishing touches on his wind chime, which resembled the Virginia Tech mascot, the Hokie Bird.

“We’re just hanging out and having fun,” Fay said. “That’s the best part of Columbus: all of the activities.”

Jewelry designer Donald Pekarek came from West Virginia to sell his gold and silver rings. Measuring up ArtFest on Saturday morning, Pekarek noted the lack of imported goods at the Washington Street event — which he called a good sign.

“From what I’ve seen, the (work) is a very good quality,” he said. “(Imported items) drag down the rest of the show.”

ArtFest, Anderson said, is a chance to put artists and their audience in direct contact.

“You can go to a gallery, but you don’t necessarily get to meet the artist. This gives them one-on-one exposure. It also provides entertainment, and it gets people downtown.”

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