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Unique art created during Fields Project

Artist Anne Leuck Feldhaus, Chicago, created these painting during her nine days in Ogle County for the Fields Project. Photo by Chris Johnson
Artist Anne Leuck Feldhaus, Chicago, created these painting during her nine days in Ogle County for the Fields Project. Photo by Chris Johnson

Nine days of creating unique art culminated with the annual Fields Project Art Show June 26.

Fourteen artists from around the country stayed with host families throughout Ogle County.

The goal of the Fields Project is to bring art and agriculture together.

Each artist had a similar, yet unique experience, while creating art during this year's festival.

"Every day was full and good," said visiting artist Susan Stayer, Arlington, Va. "There were so many things this week that I do not have a favorite.  The plane ride on Friday to see the field art was fantastic."

The images Stayer captured during her nine days in Ogle County have not been completed.

"I am a photographer and I took at least 3,200 images this week," she said. "I sit on my images for at least a week before I process them."

Ninety percent of the images captured will not be printed as traditional photos, Stayer said.

"I will use many of the images I shot and create encaustic painting," said Stayer.  "Encaustic painting is bees wax and resin that I paint with while it is melted."

Throughout the area Stayer found many beautiful locations to photograph and work on her encaustic paintings.

"The whole county is photogenic," she said. "The Castle Rock lookout is beautiful."

Stayer said artwork done this week may help preserve agriculture's history in the future.

"I took many photos of barns," said Stayer. "In 100 years from now, how will we look at metal barns."

She said the metal barns may be considered historic and artistic in the future.

Another visiting artist had the opportunity to live and experience a working hog farm.

Anne Leuck Feldhaus, Chicago, stayed on the Pfeiffer farm.

Mike and Joan Pfeiffer raise pigs on their rural Ashton farm.

"It's tough," said Feldhaus. "I have never sorted pigs before. Feeding the baby pigs was awesome."

As a thanks to the Pfeiffers, Feldhaus sketched a drawing that she will turn into a completed painting that will document her stay on the farm.

"I was inspired by staying with the Pfeiffers," said Feldhaus. "I have never painted pigs or chickens before, and I had the chance to do that this week."

When Feldhaus was at the Fields project in 2008, she created a field sculpture.  Following that project, she created a painting to document her time creating the field art.

This year was the fourth time Feldhaus has participated in the Fields Project.

Visitors to the Fields Project had the opportunity to take a 30-45 minute airplane ride from the Ogle County Airport to view three field sculptures.

Three artists, Indira Johnson, of Evanston, Curt Buethe, of Marom, Ind., and Carol Luc, of Chicago, created the field sculptures with the help of volunteers.

On June 20 and 21, the artists were in the fields near Pecatonica Road and Ill. 72 to try and finish the field sculptures before the rain that was in the forecast.

"With rain in the forecast, we got the designs plotted and mowed in the fields by Tuesday evening," said Fields Project committee member Maja Shoemaker. "It rained on Wednesday, but we were able to do touch ups on the field sculptures on Thursday (June 23)."

Finishing the field sculptures before the rain allowed the designs to come alive before the airplane rides began.

"The artists were good to work with," said Shoemaker. "It was a test of endurance to get the art finished before the rain.  Our efforts paid off, the art looked great."

The three designs mowed into the fields were unique but linked to one another by being part of the same field.

Johnson's design was "Growing Peace."  In the write up Johnson wrote that was on display at the airport she said:

"Peace is a process, as alive as any plant, growing rationally and emotionally in our minds and hearts.  Can we grow peace? Can we cultivate it in our children, nurture it in our youth? I wanted to create a monumental sculpture that imprinted the earth, inviting observers to become participants in the goal for peace that is shared by all."

The design depicts a foot, which Johnson said is a symbol that appears in her work.  She said feet "gives us stability and grounds us to the earth."

Luc's design was an "Homage to Illinois Corn."  In her description of the work, Luc said:

"I am quite aware of the fields of corn waving like vast oceans throughout the state of Illinois. It is a key product to the state and national economy and supplies many needs of the world."

The design is a stylized art deco-influenced stalk of corn. She wants her image "to represent the positive attributes of a vital agricultural product and to the farmers who produce it."

Buethe's design was  "The Fisherman Intaglio."  In his write up he said:

"Growing up in the southwest and residing in Quartzite, Ariz. has created a love to use petroglyphs, intaglios, or geogylphs and other historically significant past 'art' in my work."

The design tells an important story and is a very powerful image, he said.

In addition to the field sculptures, visitors to the Fields Project were able to participate in the second annual Mix It Up, sidewalk painting event at Oregon's Mix Park.

"We had 58 groups registered to paint sidewalk squares at Mix Park this year," said Shoemaker. "The Boy Scout Explorer Post primed each of the squares before the event."

Overall, Shoemaker said participation was up by 15 squares for this year's event.

The art painted on the sidewalk was visible to visitors attending Sundays art show at the park.

On Sunday it was announced that Stillman Valley High School graduate Kimberlee Gerardy was the recipient of a $500 scholarship.  The money for the scholarship was raised by the participation fee at Mix It Up.

During the art show on Sunday, 15 sculptures had maquettes on display for the eight annual Community Art Legacy (CAL) sculpture contest.

"It is hard to choose a winner for the CAL contest," said inBronze owner Jeff Adams. "Each maquette represents a variety of styles and interpretations. The winning artist will need to complete a full-size clay sculpture that the foundry can use to cast the piece in bronze."

The maquettes represented art and agriculture and a committee selected "Working the Land" by Robert Pulley, Columbus, Ind.

In the write up Pulley provided to describe the piece:

"Working the Land is an abstraction of swirling, powerful, directional energy that suggests the efforts of the settlers who tilled the fields, cut the grain, and harvested the crops."

After the sculpture is cast in bronze at inBronze, Mt. Morris, the finished sculpture will be installed at a public location in the Oregon area.

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