Upcycling all the rage at Art & Soul on the Fox

 
 
Updated 8/1/2015 7:28 PM
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  • Robert Buzek of McHenry works on an acrylic painting in his booth on Saturday at Art & Soul on the Fox in Elgin. Buzek has been painting on and off for the past 30 years, but seriously rededicated his creativity to the art form over the past four years.

      Robert Buzek of McHenry works on an acrylic painting in his booth on Saturday at Art & Soul on the Fox in Elgin. Buzek has been painting on and off for the past 30 years, but seriously rededicated his creativity to the art form over the past four years. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Paul and Monika Finsterwalder look at the photography by Eugene Francis Pembroke of Philadelphia on Saturday at Art & Soul on the Fox in Elgin. The Finsterwalders recently moved to Elgin from Itasca and said they were enjoying taking in the sights of downtown Elgin.

      Paul and Monika Finsterwalder look at the photography by Eugene Francis Pembroke of Philadelphia on Saturday at Art & Soul on the Fox in Elgin. The Finsterwalders recently moved to Elgin from Itasca and said they were enjoying taking in the sights of downtown Elgin. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Visitors walk past digital paintings by Margie Olszewski of Elgin and other artists during Art & Soul on the Fox in Elgin.

      Visitors walk past digital paintings by Margie Olszewski of Elgin and other artists during Art & Soul on the Fox in Elgin. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

From traditional wall art paintings to photography, from jewelry to ceramics, there's a little bit of everything at the Art & Soul on the Fox festival in downtown Elgin.

But this year -- the seventh for the juried fest -- a new category has emerged: Upcycled art.

In one example, a Glen Ellyn artist created custom tank drums -- old propane tanks flipped upside down, painted and ready to reverberate when struck by a drum stick.

A Lake in the Hills artist broke furniture apart and reassembled it into something completely new -- suitable to be admired as art while still able to be used as tables and chairs.

Some artists, including Patricia Cowart of Elgin, only recently got into the upcycled art craze, after years of doing more traditional work. And though she still does wall paintings, her painted cypress knees are what's really selling, she says.

The cypress knees, which grow upward from the roots of cypress trees, are no bigger than a couple of feet tall, and Cowart uses what she gets without carving or altering them otherwise. She buys the wooden pieces from sellers in North Carolina and Florida who harvest them, boil them for about four hours, peel off the bark and let them dry.

The arrival of a new cypress knee brings with it a new challenge of what to paint.

"I just stare at it long enough until I see something there, and I start painting," Cowart said.

Her items include animals such as kangaroos and rabbits, or human figures such as Santas.

A total of 85 exhibitors are at this year's festival, which began Saturday and concludes Sunday. Artists display their works in tents along Grove Avenue and Spring Street, and inside the Elgin Artspace Lofts.

Artists have come from as far as Philadelphia, and a total of 11 counties in Illinois, though the majority are from Kane County.

Karen Castillo, president of Art for All, the nonprofit that runs the fest, expects as many as 6,000 people to pass through the fest over the course of the weekend.

There's also music, from guitarists to a classical violinist, and half the performers live in the Artspace Lofts, a mixed-use development of 55 apartments where artists live and work.

"We've really made an effort to utilize the talent we have here," Castillo said.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For details, visit artandsoulonthefox.com.

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