By Tallitha Reese  

Organized each year by the local branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW) and held on the beautiful UW-La Crosse campus, Art Fair on the Green has become a longstanding area tradition. This fine art fair brings community and artists together to raise scholarship funds for area students. 

The 2018 fair, scheduled for July 28-29, will mark the event’s 60th year. In the early years, Betty and Dale Kendrick were among those who helped organize the event. The Kendricks also operated Behind the Brewery Gallery, and Dale was a UW-La Crosse art professor. AAUW began sponsoring the event in the late ‘60s and has continued to keep this time-honored tradition going strong since.   

In addition to an atmosphere of art appreciation and the opportunity to make purchases, Art Fair on the Green offers a variety of local food vendors, musical entertainment and a raffle to make the experience even more satisfying. 

“People are staying longer, having lunch at the picnic area, and taking time to enjoy the great quality of artwork available,” said Marian Schiesser, Publicity Committee chair.

With close to a hundred artists showcasing their talent in a variety of categories this year, including ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, mixed media, painting, photography and more, attendees will be sure to find something to take home from the event.

 Art Fair on the Green is a juried art fair, meaning artists must apply and submit examples of their work by March 31. Entries are considered by judges who evaluate submissions based on criteria of aesthetic quality, creativity, originality, impact and design quality. 

“While we do appreciate all things handmade, some items are not for our venue,” explained Erica Koonmen, Artists Committee co-chair. “It’s often a fine line between fine art and crafts, but we let our jury day judges guide us in that.”

The people who serve as judges are different from year to year but will often include an art educator, a working artist and a gallery owner. 

While many Art Fair on the Green artists are returning participants, approximately 20 percent will be made up of new artists recruited by members of the Artists Committee who begin researching in January, inviting new artists to apply. Decisions are made on jury day in mid-April. 

The planning of this large event has come down to a science for AAUW. Chairperson Carol Robertson heads the committee responsible for the event, which is broken down into 11 subgroups that divide up the necessary duties.

Then when the last weekend in July has gone and Art Fair on the Green is over, all proceeds from the event, after expenses, go toward area scholarships. According to Robertson, AAUW awarded $29,000 in scholarships and grants recently at their annual reception for recipients held May 10.

AAUW is a national network with a mission to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Since the organization’s inception in 1881, members have examined and taken positions on fundamental educational, social, economic and political issues. The La Crosse branch of AAUW began in 1922.

For more information about Art Fair on the Green, visit lacrosse-wi.aauw.net/art-fair/event or www.facebook.com/AAUWArtFairOnTheGreen. Admission is $5 per person with no cost for children age 12 and under or students with a valid ID.