On a beautiful early summer Saturday, with little wind and temperatures hovering in the mid-80s, Garden City Arts began its solo sponsorship of the community’s longest running art show with the celebration of the 51 st Annual Art in the Park that featured 38 fine arts and crafts booths that represented a wide mix of today’s art trends.

“Last year at the 50th anniversary of Art in the Park, we joined with Sandhills Art Association to have a year of transitioning the event to Garden City Arts,” said Katy Guthrie, executive director. “It seemed like a natural fit for us as we champion fine artists and craftspersons as well as support the performing arts. We were very excited about this year’s events as we believe we provided a well-balanced program of exhibitors for the viewing public and art consumers.”

According to Guthrie, part of that balance included as many mediums as possible. Painting (watercolors, oils, acrylics), mixed media (pencil, ink, recycled materials), photography and digital art, metalworks, baked goods, glassworks, wood, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, succulent arrangements, body art, pinstriping and crafts made up the 36 booths with 41 artists.

“We had 23 vendors in 2017 and experienced a jump to 36 this year,” said Guthrie. “We added a full day of music at the bandshell that provided a great showcase for local and area talent plus interactive stops for kids which were a huge hit. We were also very deliberate in making space for student artists, mixing them in among the professions in hopes that there would be opportunities for sharing information, get questions answered or just building a network with fellow artists.”

Guthrie said she was also delighted in the number of volunteers who helped with the event’s details, especially since artists did not get to do preliminary staging Friday night due to storms that passed through the area. The Steps Dance School also provided the manpower to run the children’s activities.

Vendors: two thumbs up

In addition to local artists, many of the vendors were from across or outside the state and came from places like Wamego and Wichita, Canyon and Amarillo, Texas, and as far away as Iowa.

Karen Bridges, proprietor and artist with Fork It Over, a silverware, coin and estate jewelry booth, said this was the 20th year she and her husband had been coming to Art in the Park from Amarillo.

“Garden City has always been a good show for us,” Bridges said. “I think people enjoy seeing the old silver patterns we’ve picked up and turned into one-of-a-kind necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets. Katy has done a wonderful job with this year’s show — she’s not only an artist herself, but has a good business head on her shoulders. Trust me, for someone who does between 30-36 shows a year, we appreciate her attention to details and is a great communicator. It just adds to the fun of doing a show when you feel like someone’s got your back.”

This was glass artist Kim Zweygardt's, St. Francis, second year with the art event. Last year she ran out of inventory and had to cancel two other shows as she had very little to sell.

“I was just astonished as I thought I had enough pieces to take me through three shows,” said Zweygardt. “This began as a hobby and has now turned into an obsession! And every year is different and a guessing game on what I think will be popular. Garden City is a good show for those just beginning to showcase their art as people are friendly, encouraging and show respect for people’s work. Katy and her volunteers were incredible this year!”

For Dusty Gamble, Art in the Park was a return visit after being away for over a decade. The Canyon, Texas, native said he was unorganized and unfocused when he set up his booth over 10 years ago. Much has changed since then.

“I know people come to events like Art in the Park as they are looking for one-of-a-kind art, whether it’s a painting, ceramics or jewelry. I needed to focus on what I wanted to create and then I brought a friend of mine in to handle sales leaving me available to talk to people about my creative process, should they ask. I’ve learned a lot in 10 years and wanted to come back to Garden City to try again and so far, this has been a great comeback for me,” said Gamble.

Planning begins for 2019

Guthrie said as soon as she and her board of directors catch their breath from this year’s Art in the Park, work will begin on next year’s event. They hope to expand it by extending the hours and add more interactive booths for kids, perhaps some demonstrations of a particular art form and creative processes, and still provide a good balance with all of the different art forms.

“We want Art in the Park to always be an event that is not only a positive experience for the community, but for the artists and vendors too,” said Guthrie. “We love that it also is located in our Downtown area and helps bring people to the heart of Garden City to shop, be entertained and their lives enriched through art.”