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updated: 8/21/2012 2:31 PM

Glen Ellyn festival celebrates art and music

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  • The Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts takes center stage Saturday and Sunday at Lake Ellyn Park near downtown. In addition to more than 80 juried artists who will display everything from paintings to pottery to photography, the celebration caters to a wide range of musical tastes.

      The Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts takes center stage Saturday and Sunday at Lake Ellyn Park near downtown. In addition to more than 80 juried artists who will display everything from paintings to pottery to photography, the celebration caters to a wide range of musical tastes.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Sponsored by the Glen Ellyn Lions Club, the Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts is now in its 43rd year.

      Sponsored by the Glen Ellyn Lions Club, the Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts is now in its 43rd year.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Video: CALJE performs

 
 

Lake Ellyn Park will play host this weekend to an art festival that takes visitors well beyond just the visual arts.

Oh, sure, there will be the usual sea of tents and booths displaying staples such as handcrafted jewelry, paintings and photography. But the real focus of the two-day Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts goes beyond all that.

Under a canopy of mature oak trees, the festival -- now in its 43rd year -- pays equal attention to the art of music.

"There are art festivals that include music, maybe as an afterthought, but ours is equal parts fine arts with juried artists who have to essentially compete to get in and then the musical acts," said Geoff Bevington, president of the Glen Ellyn Lions Club, which organizes the free fest that opens at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25.

Music is such a key ingredient that organizers extended the event last year to add a twilight concert.

This year's fest boasts a genre-spanning lineup from bluegrass to jazz to world music. The Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, or CALJE, will usher in a "Barefoot Dance on the Lawn" celebration -- a retooled feature from the 2011 festival -- from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The band has earned critical praise and performed in Chicago's Millennium Park.

The festival also meshes with the Lions Club's "sight and sound" mission to fund visual and hearing services such as eye exams for those in need. Proceeds, including artist fees, support the club's foundation.

"To show visual art and to have music that raises funds in support of those things just makes logical sense," Bevington said.

Organizers garnered about $12,000 from the volunteer-run festival last year, said Randy Poole, co-chairman of the fest and co-treasurer of the club.

"The contribution from the event has essentially doubled from what it was four years ago," Poole said.

In addition to the musicians, more than 80 juried artists will sell their creations. Some of the eye-popping offerings will include massive metal sculptures and redwood tables, organizers say.

Artist Jill Tortorella will return for her 10th year to showcase her pottery pieces, including bowls designed for washing and ventilating farmers market finds.

She dabbled in pottery in high school -- her boyfriend's mother was the pottery teacher -- and then studied her craft at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She now teaches almost 35 students a week in her studio and travels to 30 to 35 art shows regionally and nationally.

"It is my life's passion," said Tortorella, 57, who lives in Antioch. "It certainly has become my career. But I wouldn't say it's for the meek or weak. It is a tough job."

She makes her own clay, molds shapes on her pottery wheel and then alters them with intricate carvings before blasting them to temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees.

What keeps her coming to the Glen Ellyn festival?

"It's a very friendly show," Tortorella said. "Everybody's local. They come walking up from all the neighborhoods all around there."

The festival runs 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Lake Ellyn Park, 645 Lenox Road.

Parking is available at the Glen Ellyn Metra station and at the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center, 800 St. Charles Road. Shuttle buses will run from both sites during the festival.

For details, visit Glenellynlions.org.

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