The eighth annual Banbury Art Crawl tops the charts

Over the weekend, 100 artists and thousands of shoppers congregated to appreciate handmade art


Photo by Deanna Kolell

The Banbury Art Crawl provided a place for people to gather and appreciate handmade art, from pottery to paintings and more.

To the untrained eye, Banbury Place may appear unassuming on the outside with its brick walls and zig-zagging fire escapes.

However, over the weekend, the insides of Buildings 10 and 13 teemed with eager consumers of handmade art for the eighth annual Banbury Art Crawl, which took place 4-9 p.m. Friday and 9-5 p.m. Saturday.

Every floor displayed new and interesting wares, from prints to paintings, hats to scarves and flooring to furniture. The event also included food, live music and dance demonstrations.

As the event has grown in size each year, first-year co-chairs Lorelei Ernster and Christina Geissler said they had to navigate much of the planning on their own.

“We’ve been saying it’s kind of like planning a wedding,” Ernster said with a laugh. “It’s not that much until the week or two of, and then after that, it’s — everything.”

She and Geissler implemented many changes to the art crawl this year, Ernster said. For example, they provided more food options and created a more accessible food area. They also rebranded with a new logo, and Volume One redid their website.

In addition, for the first time, the Oxbow Hotel and The Lakely hosted an after party 6-9 p.m. Saturday, where artists could mingle with each other and the attendees.

Ernster and Geissler also expressed their surprise at the number of new and returning artists who came to the event. They filled nearly 100 slots, which was more than normal, with talented artists from across the area.

Each artist at the art crawl displayed their distinct wares, and each had their own story to tell. One artist, Jan Killian, displayed her alcohol ink paintings and photography from her business Woolyfrog Arts. For years, Killian had worked with animals, and her love of nature and wildlife inspired her to take up photography.

Then three years ago, Killian said she began painting renditions of her photos with alcohol ink, which she enjoys because of the bright colors and because it has a mind of its own. Sometimes, Killian said, she will want to paint a simple picture of a creature, but the paint decides to flow freely to create a more whimsical and funky work.

Some artists had more personal stories to tell about their art. Mary Decker, who created crocheted and embellished handbags for her business Hummingbird Inspirations, said she was a former oncology nurse and her art was inspired by a former patient, who had since passed away. Now she created fun, bright handbags, most of them decorated with birds.

Other artists were just beginning to emerge in the art scene. Connor Severson, a young wildlife artist from Eau Claire, was featured as the “Emerging Artist of 2017.”

Severson said he had been drawing since high school and selling his art for a year and a half. His drawings depict various wildlife scenes, mostly of fish, deer and ducks.

“I really didn’t like art when I was a kid, but I always loved hunting and fishing,” Severson said. “I just kind of started drawing deer and fish because I liked them so much, and I figured out I was good at it.” He added his work was unique because not many wildlife artists were displayed at the art crawl.

With so many new and returning artists and the growing popularity of the art crawl, Ernster and Geissler said they had received a lot of positive feedback from attendees. However, they will be looking for ways to improve the event in the future.

For example, Ernster said they will be looking into starting a scholarship program so artists who otherwise couldn’t afford to come would have that opportunity. In addition, they will be looking to enhance their digital presence so people could use an app to access information about the art crawl.

After such a successful turnout, one thing is certain: the Banbury Art Crawl will continue to be a thriving part of Eau Claire’s vibrant and expanding art culture.