Rising Sun Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts

Inaugural juried fine arts event
to feature national, regional art

Hoosier Salon artist
Randall Harden to display work

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

RISING SUN, Ind. (September 2008) – Randall Harden had always loved drawing and painting. It wasn’t until he broke his back and leg in a serious accident in 1996 that he thought about art as a possible career. Unable to continue working regular jobs, Harden turned his passion for painting into economic opportunity. Today, Harden is an acclaimed oil painter who has traveled extensively across the globe and won numerous awards and honors for his landscape scenes.
Harden is one of nearly 80 top quality artisans from around the country who has been invited to exhibit at the inaugural Rising Sun Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts. The two-day event, scheduled for Sept. 13-14, will be held along Rising Sun, Ind.’s Main Street. There is no admission fee for the festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Artisans will display a variety of works, including glass and metal art, hand-made, high-end jewelry, pottery, photography, musical instruments, hand-made furniture, fiber arts, fine art basketry and fine-art gourds. The arts festival will include entertainment, music, food, horse-drawn carriage rides and wines made exclusively by three Indiana wineries.
“We have found our definitive festival for our rapidly expanding program of arts as economic development tools,” said Rising Sun Tourism Director Sherry Timms. “Our reputation as an artist community and an arts destination has grown tremendously over the past few years; this festival is the obvious next step in our continuing growth.”
Timms said the idea for an arts festival had ‘been kicked around for years,” but nobody could get things going. Finally, a newly formed organization, the Rising Sun Arts Council, came up with an idea that could work.
She also gave praise to festival organizer Debby Abrams, whom she called “a one-woman show. Abrams has devoted herself to making this festival as upscale and top- quality as any festival can be.”
Abrams said the community has wanted to start an arts festival for years to cultivate its burgeoning art colony. “We hope with this new festival to get the word out about our flourishing artist community and to showcase all of that talent to art patrons,” she said. “We want artists to be successful and to look forward to coming back.”
Abrams said the quality of the artwork exhibited will be first-rate. Artists who applied their work evaluated by a panel of acclaimed art professionals. She said only little more than half of the artists who applied actually met the judges’ high standards of acceptance.
“We have the potential to grow into a nationally recognized, top-ranked event that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year,” she said. “We are very excited about this opportunity.”
Local artisans did not participate in the jurying process. While the juried exhibitors will have outdoor booths along the city’s main thoroughfare, local artisans will open their shop doors for visitors. “It is just going to be a great festival,” said Timms.
Harden, 42, draws his inspiration for his landscape portraits from nature scenes, particularly those of the nation’s Midwest. “I’ve traveled throughout Europe and across the U.S., but I simply love the Midwestern landscape.” While the majority of the work he does is landscapes, he also paints still lifes.
He has works on permanent display in several galleries, including Indiana State University’s Gongaware Center, Grace College, Tippecanoe County Courthouse and Virginia Tech University. Currently, he has a display at Wickliff Fine Art LLC in Zionsville, Ind. He also travels to many art fairs across the country, and will head to art fairs in Napa, Calif., and Sonoma, Calif., shortly after the Rising Sun arts festival.
He is also a member of numerous artist associations, including the Indiana Artist Club, Hoosier Salon, Oil Painters of America and the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association.
In August, Harden visited Madison, Ind., to participate in the Madison Art Club’s “Artfest,” a series of art events that include a plein air paint out and the annual Madison Art Competition and Exhibition. He displayed his works at the annual Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art for several years, as well.
Harden is looking forward to the Rising Sun Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts. “It’s a new festival, so it may take some time for it to build, but I think it will be interesting,” he said. “The festival is definitely a great thing for the area.”

• For more information about the Rising Sun Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts, visit: www.risingsunartfestival.org.

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