2012 Saint Louis Art Fair Artist Profiles: Gregg Rasmusson, Jeffrey Cannon
Both artists will sell their work at the 19th annual art fair this September in downtown Clayton in part, they say, thanks to teachers who encouraged them to keep honing their craft.
One of Gregg Rasmusson's pieces of pottery has been given to Sterling Bank Chief Executive Ken Poteet in recognition of the bank's recent major donation to the Saint Louis Art Fair. The artist's experience underscores the educational focus of this year's festival, which enters its 19th year Sept. 7-9 in downtown Clayton.
Rasmusson is a graduate of Lafayette High School in Wildwood. There, he enrolled in advanced placement studio class and had attended the Art Fair as a high school student, had dreamed of showing there one day. He then attended the Kansas City Art Institute.
(Related: 2012 Saint Louis Art Fair Gets Its Biggest Donation Yet)
After graduating, he returned to his hometown of Des Moines, IA, and taught some beginning pottery classes. He later moved to St. Louis and went on to buy a house in Overland.
That was seven years ago. He envisioned putting a studio inside it and making a living doing art. But when the reality of needing to make mortgage payments set in, he spent several years paying the bills by remodeling houses.
Then one day about a year and a half ago, he had an epiphany.
"'What am I doing?'" Rasmusson recalls thinking. "I need to start making pots again."
He put his remodeling on hold and started crafting pottery full-time.
This year, he expects to attend about nine art shows. He didn't expect to get accepted to the selective Saint Louis Art Fair but was thrilled when it happened.
Rasmusson's pottery draws on his work as a remodeler: Several pots on display Tuesday, for example, are patterned after some of the backsplashes he designed for kitchens and showers. He thought it would look cool, and his friends encouraged him to keep going after they saw his work.
To make them, he carves patterns into the clay pots; glazes and fires the pots; and then fills the gaps between the patterns with black grout.
His high school art teacher, Pamela Senti, also attended Tuesday's event. She spent nearly 20 years at Lafayette High School before retiring a year ago.
"Gregg was extremely creative in his thinking," Senti said. At the time, he was just getting into artwork made of clay. He also made several "beautiful" hand-built ceramics.
Senti focuses on painting and drawing, but as a teacher she had to know a little bit about everything. Rasmusson was interested in three-dimensional art early on, and it's rewarding to her that he and other students have gone on to find success in the art world.
"This is a dream, not just for me but for Gregg as well," she said about his acceptance into the Art Fair.
Pennsylvania field inspires Texas artist to craft winning Art Fair print
Jeffrey Cannon is an Austin, TX-based artist whose painting, titled "Sanctuary," has been selected for the official Art Fair print. The vertically-framed image is based on a photograph Cannon saw and depicts an open, Midwestern-like field with a grove of trees in the back ground and blue sky overhead.
He crafted the image first by drawing a series of thumbnail sketches based on the image of a field in rural Pennsylvania. It reminded him of the Midwest. (Cannon grew up in Illinois.) What's more, much of Cannon's work draws on the idea that spending time in nature is medicinal, restorative. Take time to explore a field and the various details, colors and textures, will begin to emerge before your eyes.
"A lot of my work is about that feeling of actually being there," Cannon said.
To Cannon, the trees in the background of the work also reflect optimism, a feeling he also shares about the Art Fair.
Cindy Lerick is executive director of the Art Fair. She said like Rasmusson, Cannon pursued his art in part because of teachers who encouraged him.
Cannon describes teachers as "catalysts for encouragement."
The print will be available for $50 unframed and $100 framed during the Art Fair. A limited number of signed copies also will be available.
Reservations for the print may be made in advance by calling Cultural Festivals at 314-863-0278.
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