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Flagstaff's 21st Labor Day Art in the Park offers easy interaction with artists

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When it comes to Labor Day Weekend, another long-running annual event after the Coconino County Fair is Flagstaff’s Art in the Park — a three-day gathering of artists and musicians that has become a draw for both locals and visitors.

This year, Art in the Park takes place in Wheeler Park downtown on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. It runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the first two days and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Labor Day. Admission is free. Learn more at www.flagstaffartinthepark.com.

Event organizer Stuart Wolf, who also is a Flagstaff-based ceramics artist, explained that Art in the Park is a rare outdoor art fair in the way it selects its participants and the requirements it sets to create a higher standard for the event.

“The principal tenet of Flagstaff Art in the Park is that the work you see presented was handmade by the person who is standing in that booth,” Wolf explained. “The direct connection between those who make things and the buying public is a disappearing phenomenon in our culture. There was a time not too long ago where a person knew who made their clothes, their shoes, their furniture and their food.”

He added, “We are rediscovering the value of this, not just as a matter of healthy commerce but as an inherently satisfying and rewarding emotional experience for the buyer and the seller. It’s the reason folks love the Sunday Farmer’s Market so much. This basic idea lives at the heart of Flagstaff Art in the Park and perhaps distinguishes us from some other ‘art and craft’ presentations that are seen around town.”

Some of the artists included in the event are Utah artist Ed Kolle, who makes carved and molded silver boxes; Tucson artists Carson and Bernard Jansen, leather workers who create both functional and artistic works; well-known watercolorist Roberta Rogers; and beloved local Navajo artist Baje Whitethorne Sr.

The majority of the 100 or so presenters will be local and regional Arizona artists, but there are also many from New Mexico, Utah and California, according to Wolf.

“As always we have a wonderful collection of painters, metalworkers, potters, glass artists, leather workers, photographers, woodworkers and jewelers,” Wolf said. “There are clock makers and stone sculptors and several booths of recycled and up-cycled creations.” 

Along with art, the Art in the Park event features live music. Among this year’s performers are Ed Kabotie, Matt Bingham, Adam Fry, Matt Hall, Rick Cole, Anam Cara, Kent Simmons, Harry Ingerick, and Karen Custer Thurston’s dance group. The schedule of performers will be posted at the Flagstaff Art in the Park Facebook page.

The music and art will be joined by food vendors, as well as children’s activities and a chance to bask in the late-summer outdoors while perusing a wide variety of work by artists and artisans.

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