The Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival by Amdur Productions returned to downtown Evanston for three consecutive days beginning Friday, August 19 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Evanston is a uniquely diverse intellectual community that connects with the arts on so many levels, and being able to connect with the arts is more important now than ever because art is soothing to the soul,” said Amy Amdur of Highland Park, president of Amdur Productions. , a fine arts festival company she founded in 1984.

“An actual experience of going to an art festival is a positive experience, it’s outside, it’s interactive and it’s very sensory,” Amdur said.

The festival also welcomed dogs if they were leashed and friendly, according to the Amdur Productions website.

More than 130 artists exhibited works near the 800 St. Church. Food and forks were a big part of the experience as people combined their love of cuisine and art during their meeting.

“People really appreciate food in Evanston, and when you look at art, it should be a relaxing event,” Amdur said. “We want to give people a place where they can stop, sit down … enjoy a snack.”

The entertainment lineup included the duo, The String Shredders. On five-string electric violin was Edgar Gabriel of Arlington Heights, formerly of Evanston, and Ron Steta of Elk Grove Village on nylon-string electric guitar.

“I love Evanston, I would love to live here again,” Gabriel said. “There’s so much character, there’s so much culture, diversity, you’ve got everything here.”

Also featured this year was the Aspiring Artists Micro Music Festival which showcased emerging performers and songwriters.

Walking the middle Friday afternoon was linebacker Terri Tepper of North Barrington, who grew up in Evanston and attended Evanston Township High School.

Of Evanston, Tepper said, “My heart is here.”

Also checking out the art and looking at the dress up art that Friday were Michelle Duckworth and Nancy Kleiman from San Antonio, Texas. Both are natives of Highland Park and graduated from Highland Park High School – Duckworth in 1977 and Kleiman in 1975.

“I love being back,” Duckworth said of North Shore. “I’m all about art.”

Carrie Scheiner of Tampa, Florida lunched and sat down at the festival, eating a chicken taco from vendor El Poblanito.

“So far so good,” Scheiner said of her visit to Evanston.

Light painter artist and photographer Xavier Nuez of Ravenswood was on hand to chat with customers at the artist booth.

“I love Chicago,” Nuez said. “I travel around the country, I always bring my equipment. For 30 years, I’ve been bringing lights to my night photos and lighting up these places at night … battery-powered colored lights.”

The Evanston show was among the first for quirky folk art and medium oil artist Channing Wilson of Crystal Lake.

“It’s exciting,” Channing said. “This is my first year doing art fairs, so I’m staying pretty local and just testing the waters.”

Channing is influenced by the French impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh.

“I love the way his shots are so quick and just feel so organic, you know, he just does it,” Channing said. “My art is happy art, that’s what I wanted. I painted so much during the lockdown (the COVID-19 pandemic), it was like all I could do to keep my sanity.”

“So I think, ‘Happy, fun art’ … Why not?” Channing said with a smile.

Karie Angell Luc is a freelance reporter with the Pioneer Press.

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