Fine Art Festival takes over Oakbrook Center this weekend

Nature's artistry, the kind that blooms every spring and hunkers down each Chicago winter, is the raw material for Shelly Lawler's stunning photographs.

Recently, the artist began transferring her images to wearable art.

“Last year, I got the notion to create apparel. Now, I look at a woman and she's a blank canvas,” the Hoffman Estates resident said.

Lawler will be among about 70 artists displaying and offering their creations for sale at the juried Fine Art Festival Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 and 20, at Oakbrook Center.

Lawler said she'll bring a selection of scarves along with wall and window art to the festival, which will be situated throughout the outdoor Oak Brook shopping mall.

“The Oak Brook setting is quite beautiful. It's easy access for people. The logistics are really wonderful,” she said. “It also draws people that we don't see anywhere else.”

A former model, singer and entertainer, Lawler said she was introduced to photography by her husband, Val Mazzenga, a former Chicago Tribune photojournalist whose career took him all over the world, earning him six Pulitzer Prize nominations and resulting in prizewinning photo essays of subjects such as Mother Teresa, Richard Nixon and Michael Jordan. He was inducted into the International Press Corps Hall of Fame in 2008.

Being handed a camera by such an accomplished photographer was like a 747 pilot handing over the cockpit controls to a novice aviator, she said. But she didn't let that intimidate her.

She started with the vistas available to her just outside the couple's door.

“We do back up to wetland and forest preserves. I started taking pictures of the garden I created and live in. My garden was a place I'd go to rest,” she said.

She began printing on paper, then started transferring those images to canvas.

“It gives it a very painterly look,” she said.

Paintings also will be featured at the festival, along with ceramics, jewelry, glass, wood, fiber and functional art, said festival organizer Lindsey Galassini, of Amdur Productions. Both local and out-of-state artists will participate.

“Every artist sets up their own tent. The tent becomes like their own little gallery,” Galassini said.

Galassini said the festival is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.

“It's easy to walk through because it's all on one level,” she said.

Prices will range from $35 to several thousand dollars, she said.

“There's something for everybody at this show,” she said.

Many of the artists are participating in the Green Ribbon Project, she said.

“An artist will put a green ribbon on a piece or two,” she said.

Ten percent of the proceeds from the sale of those pieces will be donated to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization.

Visitors also will have the opportunity to visit the Draw for the Troops tent.

“Kids and adults can make drawings and we send them overseas,” she said. “It's kind of like (sending) a little piece of home.”

The Fine Art Festival will feature creations by about 70 juried artists and will help raise money for Autism Speaks. Daily Herald File Photo

Fourth annual Fine Art Festival at Oakbrook Center

<b>When:</b> 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20

<b>Where:</b> Oakbrook Center, Route 83 and 22nd Street, Oak Brook

<b>Admission:</b> Free

<b>Info:</b> <a href=""></a>

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