Columbia's Art in the Park attracts artists, art advocates

Saturday, June 2, 2012 | 4:51 p.m. CDT; updated 8:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 2, 2012
Art fans and more than 100 artists participated Saturday in the 54th annual Art in the Park event at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia.

COLUMBIA ­— Artist Jay Thompson stood under his tent full of cats Saturday afternoon. Cat art, that is.

Thompson superimposes cat faces over human ones on public domain images to create his quirky digital cat art.

Thompson was one of more than 100 artists gathered at Stephens Lake Park for the 54th annual Art in the Park on Saturday.

For two days, Columbia residents gather at Stephens Lake Park around dozens of white tents for a festival chock-full of music, food and, of course, art. The Columbia Art League puts on this event the first weekend of June each year.

Not only paintings are being sold and displayed during the art festival. Many other objects are for sale, including hand-sewn silk embroidery, jewelry, mobiles, ceramics, bird feeders, digital art, yard sculptures, wood decor and glass arts.

Away from the tents, longtime friends Holly Dometrorch and Rachel Mazzocco sat with their children under the shade of a tree and ate kettle corn.

They come to Art in the Park every year — too many years to count, they said.

"It’s a community-building experience," Mazzocco said.

Dometrorch and Mazzocco said Art in the Park creates a place where people can gather to experience art.

That art helps children’s creativity and imagination and "exposes them to differences in people and cultures," Dometrorch said.

A long day of looking at art requires fuel, and vendors sell food items such as popcorn and noodle dishes.

A baby boy sat on his dad's shoulders Saturday afternoon and pointed to the food, signaling that it was time for his lunch.

Among the tents, adults sipped smoothies, ate popcorn and talked with friends. Children blew bubbles and played with pinwheels. A woman used a mirror to see how a pair of earrings looked on her.

Because of the Saturday afternoon sunshine, people had to shield their eyes to get a better view of merchandise.

Artist Gary St. Ivany came from the Lake of the Ozarks to display his art. St. Ivany began painting after he retired as an environmental geologist for Missouri Geological Survey. He says that art is his new occupation.

St. Ivany said he enjoys Art in the Park because it provides a public place for people to view his works.

"You come to something like this, and you get a lot of good feedback," he said.

A few rows over from St. Ivany, Thompson's images of cats caught the eyes those passing by.

Thompson said people have been very interested in his digital cat images.

Thompson is a retired film animator. He uses images from the public domain, paints them and uses self-photographed cat images to create his unique art.

Thompson has two cats, but because they are black, they do not photograph well, Thompson said.

"All my cats are shelter cats that I use (for photographs). So that’s where I get all my actors," he said.

Art in the Park continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with performances by illusionist Jeff Copeland and musicians Violet and the Undercurrents and Jason Ringenberg.

Supervising editor is Ted Hart 

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