June 19, 2019

Art at AthFest and Beyond: Commissioned Artists and Craft Vendors Abound

Art Notes

Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

2019 Flagpole Athens Music Award by Eli Saragoussi

AthFest Artist Market: If live musicians and dancing bodies aren’t enough visual stimulation, the AthFest Music and Arts Festival will host an artist market on Washington Street between Hull and Lumpkin streets, with over 50 vendors setting up shop. Both fine arts and crafts will be presented, with items ranging from paintings and drawings to photography, jewelry, clothing, sculpture, bath and body products, furniture and ceramics. Businesses to be on the look-out for include Jellykoe, Westwind Tie Dye, Cherokee Moon Mixology, Amanda Proctor Ceramics, Om Grown Wellness and Dark Moon Trading.

As a juried market, $600 in prizes will be awarded to top artists who catch the eyes of a panel of local judges. The artist market will be open Friday, June 21 from 5–10 p.m., Saturday, June 22 from 12–10 p.m. and Sunday, June 23 from 12:30–8 p.m.

AthFest Theme Artist: Every year, AthFest Educates chooses a different local artist from a pool of applicants to be the official theme artist of the AthFest Music and Arts Festival and AthHalf Half Marathon and 5K. The artist’s work is incorporated into all graphic design and branding, appearing on everything from billboards, promotional posters and advertisements to T-shirts, buttons and stage banners. This year’s theme artist is none other than Flagpole’s own ad and web designer, Anna LeBer.  

Finding a sweet spot for imagery that would appeal to a younger crowd, yet also be fun for the older generation of attendees, LeBer decided to go with a playful theme influenced by ’90s nostalgia. Incorporating popular colors of the decade, like hot pink, orange, neon green and cyan, her loud illustrations of youthful faces seem to scream the words “AthFest 2019.”

“Recently, I've been getting a lot of inspiration from ’90s cartoon illustration style,” says LeBer. “This year's AthFest logo was definitely inspired by the logo for the show ‘All That’—it used to be one of my favorites when I was a kid. My work is also inspired by cartoonists like Edward Gorey and Charles Addams, and contemporary female artists like Eleanor Davis, Laura Callaghan and Lisa Hanawalt.”

LeBer’s illustration process typically begins with good old-fashioned brainstorming using pencil on paper. Once she has an idea she’s ready to finalize, she traces the image into Adobe Illustrator, which offers greater adaptability and flexibility.

In addition to AthFest and AthHalf, Anna’s design work can be found on the T-shirts and illustrated cocktail menus at The Old Pal. Some of her artwork is currently available for sale at Atomic Vintage, and she will also be included in a group exhibition at the Lyndon House Arts Center this September.

Flagpole Music Awards Artist: Winning musicians at the annual Flagpole Athens Music Awards ceremony, held this Thursday evening at the Morton Theatre, will be given unique trophies that double as original pieces of art by Eli Saragoussi. A fairly new transplant from Denver, Saragoussi immediately caught my eye with both her three-dimensional, anthropomorphic felt animals that have popped up across town on gallery walls, as well as her doo-wop band, Baby Tony and the Teenies, in which she sings and plays bass.

“I’ve been creating art and playing music for most of my life,” says Saragoussi. “I believe they have always informed each other, but more than ever since I began playing in bands. For me, playing in a band is not only about the music—it’s about building an all-encompassing world with a specific aesthetic. I love designing posters, props, album art, etc. to fit the vibe of the music.”

Her playful, long-tongued dog trophies, which appear on the cover of Flagpole this week, are representative of her unusual style and choice of materials. Drawn to felt for its soft texture and saturated colors, she creates artwork that is approachable and friendly on first impression. Reinforced with masonite to be mounted on a wall, however, her stuffed-animal-like works keep a safe distance from the viewer. This, combined with details like amulets and perplexing expressions, establishes room to imagine your own narrative.

“I have only lived in Athens for a short time, but never before have I felt so uplifted by my peers,” she says. “The amount of encouragement I've received to pursue my dreams is unparalleled to any other place I've lived. This, I imagine, is why Athens pumps out so many uniquely talented artists and musicians—everyone is climbing the mountain together as a team.”