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Columbus Makes Art Presents: Mary Ann Crago at the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival

Lynette Santoro-Au Lynette Santoro-Au Columbus Makes Art Presents: Mary Ann Crago at the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts FestivalArtist Mary Ann Crago talks about the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival.
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The Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival celebrates over 50 years of creativity on Monday, Sept. 3. Hosted by the City of Upper Arlington, the Festival is the city’s signature arts event. The free, interactive arts festival showcases the work of local, regional and national artists in a variety of fine-art and fine-craft media. The alfresco art gallery includes two stages with local performers, an art activities area and a variety of refreshment booths.

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Artist Mary Ann Crago.

Each year at the Arts Festival two judges review the artwork to honor participating artists with awards. The judges select four winners: best of show, first place, second place and third place. Along with a monetary award, the four winners are automatically invited back for the following year’s festival without being juried. Each year award-winning artists receive original artwork created by Don Dodrill, the artist who started the festival in 1966, and this year they will receive a piece from Mary Ann Crago, whose work can be found in booth #95.

Crago has been an artist at the festival for the last six years and enjoys the one-day event and connecting with patrons who collect her work. We connected with her about her process and the festival experience.

Lynette: Tell us a bit about your work.
Mary Ann:
I combine organic and man-made found objects and photos with acrylic paint, copper, cut paper, hand-sculpted, painted and stitched pieces to make small sculptural objects that can be displayed or used in a variety of ways (hung as wall art, hung as ornaments, used as magnets, worn). Text is sometimes incorporated to create a narrative. Imagery often includes birds, animals and figures.

Lynette: How do you prepare to create art for your patrons? For patrons in general?
Mary Ann:
I often set out with the same intention no matter what the show or who the piece is for. I enjoy making the art I make and I always try to be mindful of that when I’m working on pieces. If something feels labored or stubborn, I put it aside and come back to it. From collecting all the bits and pieces to piecing it all together, the process of experimenting and discovery makes my heart beat a little faster (almost like falling in love) and drives me to keep going. I like that I make work that others will love. My pieces feel like little bits of my soul and I watch in awe when others connect with them as I do. I hope to always create work that has that kind of magic.

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Guardian. Work by Mary Ann Crago.

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Two Guardians. Work by Mary Ann Crago.

Lynette: And how do you prepare a commission like you are doing for the festival?
Mary Ann:
Preparing for commission work requires a similar but slightly different mindset. Over time I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and set aside thoughts of self-doubt that creep in when you are trying to create work that you hope another will love. When it eventually comes down to it, I challenge myself to create my best. To create pieces that I myself will find it hard to part with. To have my work selected to award other artists for their achievement is mind-blowing and I am grateful for the recognition and opportunity.

Lynette: What is the best thing about the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival?
Mary Ann:
The best thing about UALDAF is the art-appreciating crowd that it brings EVERY YEAR. This show never disappoints.

Lynette: What is the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Mary Ann:
The best thing about the Columbus art scene is that it is overflowing with opportunities and passionate, creative people.

Meet Crago and see her work at the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival on Monday, September 3, 2018 in Northram Park.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.

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