George Ceffalio compares getting into the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair to winning the lottery.
The Glen Ellyn artist will return to the event hosted by the Naperville Art League for the fourth year to unveil his oil paintings. That's no easy accomplishment. The juried fair, running Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16, selects only about 135 artists out of a pool of 750 applicants.
If you goWhat: Naperville Riverwalk Fine Art Fair
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16
Where: Naperville Riverwalk and Jackson Avenue between Main and Eagle streets
Details: 135 artists, music by DuPage Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta
Cost: Free admission Info: napervilleartleague.com
What drives the competition?
"It's the perfect setting for an art fair," explains Ceffalio, 47.
To land a coveted spot along the Riverwalk, returning artists -- who make up half of the fair -- must submit an application showing fresh and evolving work, organizers say.
"There's just a prevalence of art fairs, and that's why we try to do things that will distinguish us from other art fairs," said Debbie Venezia, executive director of the Naperville Art League.
Plus, artists can display only original pieces -- not prints.
"We kind of hold the bar very high, and we're very strict on that," Venezia said.
The result is an award-winning fair attracting artists -- some new to the suburban art-show scene -- producing work in 14 unique mediums, including 2-D and 3-D art, ceramics, jewelry, sculptures and mixed media.
"These artists who come to the Riverwalk are the most dedicated group of people when you see what they do and how much time they invest," Venezia said. "And when you see the passion and the emotion they put into it, that's the payoff."
The fair isn't just for the eyes. The DuPage Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta will perform throughout the event. The DuPage Children's Museum also will set up free art activities for kids.
For Ceffalio, the challenge is to translate reality onto mahogany wood panels and canvases.
"I'm always learning and solving problems with painting," Ceffalio said.
While he is a professional in the graphic arts industry, he has dabbled in painting most of his life but really got serious about oil pieces six years ago. Since then, he has developed skills through classes at the DuPage Art League in Wheaton.
He compares his paintings -- often inspired by landscapes from local forest preserves -- to a Rembrandt style. They can be viewed at Ceffalio.com. He expects to bring about 20 pieces to the fair, ranging in price from $200 to $2,000.
Ceffalio insists his painting is not a hobby but a passion.
"I have to paint," Ceffalio said. "I just love being able to sit there and get away in the painting."
The fair is free to spectators and runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For details, call (630) 355-2530 or visit Napervilleartleague.com.