Art & Artists by John Coyle Steinbrunner

August 28th, 2010

Get Your Goat This Weekend

The last full weekend in August always signifies one thing: the Bucktown Arts Fest has arrived. One (if not the only one) of the city’s absolutely free neighborhood fests (no death stares for a “donation” at the gate … not even gates), the not-for-profit BAF draws a huge crowd, fair weather and a range of artists and artisans each year. Add to that evening film festivals, poetry slams, live music, tai chi, a kids’ area and a beer tent that serves with gusto and you’ve got yourself the recipe for a perfect late summer outdoor day of art.

Yes, there are a fair number of the careerists here—those makers of things who follow a circuit of festivals across the nation, latter-day art Gypsies. You know the work at a glance. There are also a number of jewelry and pottery folks as well as the odd apparel designer. What I love about the Bucktown Arts Fest is that there is also always one, sometimes as many as three left-field inclusions that really wow you. And usually they are the local folks: Ryan Zoghlin’s aerotones – photos printed onto emulsion-covered glass and backed with gold; the more commercial and more charming wares of Circa Ceramics; one-man art brandsters like Dolan Geiman.

Like any vibrant arts scene, the BAF succeeds by making a place for looking at art and looking at people. The expansive eating area is hobnob central and a welcome respite from the people-clogged aisles. It’s a nice place to make a day of it. And if you have the wherewithal, stick around until the very end when the fest committee—a motley crew of artists, volunteers, bankers, designers and illustrators—invade the local watering holes to celebrate another year and another job well done.

Bucktown Arts Fest: Saturday, August 28 and Sunday, August 29 from 11am – 7pm at Senior Citizens Memorial Park (2238 N. Oakley Ave.) For more information visit

– John Coyle Steinbrunner

J.C. is a painter in Chicago. He also founded and hosts The Salon Series to bring audiences and creatives together over dinner for an evening of discussion. He prefers Mexican lagers, Gibson guitars and the window seat. More about his art and work can be found at

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