Calico Fort Arts & Crafts Fair produces electrifying art and fun

Published 12:43 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

With a terrific crowd, beautiful weather, prize winning arts and crafts, good food, fun for kids and live entertainment, the 46th annual Calico Fort Arts & Crafts Fair held Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9 had much to offer this year.

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The Judge for the $2,500 in prize money and ribbons that were awarded Saturday was artist and art professor Amanda Ingram, a native of Lowndesboro and graduate of Lowndes Academy. She earned her undergraduate degree at Memphis College of Art and her graduate degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass.

She is presently an art professor at Auburn University in Montgomery where she teaches drawing, foundation courses and introduction to visual arts.

Ingram is also the daughter of Lowndesboro Town Councilmember Jerry Ingram.

Ingram selected a best of show for this year’s arts and crafts fair, which literally produced “shocking” results.

The $800 best of show prize went to Katie and Brian Dylewski of Waverly, for their jewelry and tie-dye items and Brian’s art that includes the burn patterns formed by electricity arcing across various types of wood.

Brian said he always loved wood and is a third-generation carpenter. He said he had some scrap wood just lying around that he was seeking a use for when he saw some scientific videos online.

As a result, he said he uses a neon sign transformer that puts out 9,000 volts of electricity at .3 amps, which he said “is not deadly.” And, he said, he uses baking soda and water as a “conduction agent that sits on top of the wood.”

Dylewski said the electricity applied then creates a pattern that “is formed naturally.” He also said, “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done with electricity.”

Dylewski said people see different things in his art… trees, rivers, fine branching blood vessels called capillaries. And he gets excited when he describes how the electricity goes where he wants it to go across a piece of wood as if it is “intelligent.”

Ingram said of this year’s Calico Fort Arts & Crafts Fair, “I think this is a really unique show because you have such a variety. And to me some of the most interesting booths I’ve ever seen are at this show.”

She said she was impressed by the Dylewskis’ electric art because, “They were doing something I’ve never seen before.” She said, “When you go to art school for eight years… it hard to shock you. But it (Brian’s work) literally did.”

Ingram said she was impressed with the passion shown by Dylewski explaining his work and the way Brian and Katie Dylewski set up their booth. “I thought their jewelry was phenomenal. I just loved their vibe,” Ingram said.

Other winners announced Saturday were first place craft award winners Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Adams of Fort Deposit, who earned a prize of $500 for woodwork swings and more; second place craft award winner Charles Adams of Troy, who earned a prize of $300 for his stained glass and candy; and third place craft award winner Rex Thrash of Troy, who earned a prize of $100 for his woodwork bird houses and more.

Other winners include first-place art award winners Melody and David Thompson of Danville, who earned a $500 prize for his metalwork; second-place art award winner Clifton Fussell of Pensacola, Fla., who earned a prize of $300 for his antique banks; and third-place art award winner Lavon Strickland of Blakely, Ga., who earned a $100 prize for her stoneware pottery.

Youngsters enjoyed a free petting zoo sponsored by Trinity Framing of Montgomery with peacocks, chickens, rabbits, goats, ducks and miniature donkeys. They also enjoyed pony rides, Wipe Out and Air Jump inflatables, bungee jumping and a mechanical bull.

There was also free pet setting for visitors to the park by Butler County Humane Society representatives just outside gate six.

And among those who were slated to perform were Ashley Jackson, Ben Norris, Steve Pendley, Caleb Luckie, Southern Gentlemen and Max Conway and The Girl Next Door.