Art on the Square features arts of all types

By Navar Watson

Deb Slack has only done oil paintings for about five years but has garnered quite a collection since then. Inspired by the soft, impressionistic style of T.C. Steele, Slack paints landscapes from places like France and Mexico, as well as Indiana.

“You really can get lost in painting,” she said. “It’s really kind of like meditating. I just get so absorbed, and hours [and] hours can fly by.”

The Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission held its annual Art Fair on the Square Aug. 2 where Slack joined some 40 artists in displaying their work.

The event hosted a variety of art forms, Lesley Haflich of the Hamilton County Artists’ Association said. It featured not only paintings but also jewelry, ceramics, photo letters and more.

One artist, Shaikh Steven, sold a combination of Indian-influenced jewelry and simple, modern jewelry inspired by the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Raised in India, Shaikh was forced to make jewelry at 8 years old. About 14 years ago, he started making the jewelry again – this time out of his own desire. Though he makes money at art fairs, he said the best part is making connections with people.

“You like to see the smile on their face when they enjoy your work,” Haflich, a painter, said. “It’s special when you give them something that … has an emotional connection.”

Shaikh’s work represented some of the fair’s cultural variety, Haflich said. There was also an African man selling woven leather and jewelry.

One local group of artists, the Nickel Plate Boys, showed various art forms under the same tent. Comprised of four men – John Reynolds, oil painter; Bruce Neckar, drawer; John Bundy, duck decoy carver, and Greg Adams, builder of rustic willow furniture – the Nickel Plate Boys have known each other for around 40 years.

Their tent was set up like a living room, with all their crafts on display.

Though many stopped by and admired their work, Reynolds said they wish they had more buyers, or people who “have the money and means to support local artists and have original art in their homes.”

The decline in buyers is most likely a result of a fallen economy, he said. Ten years ago, people spent money a lot easier.

Art on the Square offered artwork for a range of prices – from $2.50 note cards to $600 paintings.

One of the most popular tents featured Photo Letters, run by Gail Wiener of Indianapolis. Customers could choose from a variety of “letter” photographs Wiener took and make their own words.

Reynolds said events like Art on the Square help introduce the community to local artists. Without people buying the work, these artists can’t survive.

“It would be a shame if we didn’t have artists,” Reynolds said. “I think the soul of the community is in the arts.”

Art on the Square falls on the first Saturday of every August. More of this year’s artwork can be viewed on Nickel Plate Arts’ Pinterest page.

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