Bradley Fair art show off to strong start

He starts with a pile of junk he's collected at yard sales and thrift stores — old typewriter keys, kitchen spoons, abandoned toasters, music box innards.

But once Plano, Texas-based artist Jay Garrison has had his way with the junk, it becomes a "found art assemblage," a painstakingly crafted, whimsically conceived train or flying contraption that fetches between $300 and $500.

Garrison is among the more than 60 artists selling work at Autumn & Art, a first-year juried art show and sale organized by Wichita Festivals Inc. and staged Friday through Sunday at Bradley Fair, the shopping center at 21st and Rock.

The festival already has attracted thousands of art buyers and art lookers who've wandered the festival's quarter mile of tents stuffed with paintings, glass pieces, sculpture, jewelry, clothing, furniture and more.

They've purchased food from Bradley Fair restaurants, dined at fancy restaurant tables scattered near a food tent, and listened to jazz bands fill the not-very-autumny air with music.

So far, the show is meeting the organizers' expectations, said Janet Wright, the president and CEO of Wichita Festivals.

Crowds on Saturday were steady. People were happy. And most important, artists were selling their works, she said.

"I couldn't be happier with this," Wright said Saturday afternoon. "The people that are coming out here to look are interested in what they're seeing, and the artists are pleased, and that's what matters. It'll keep them coming back."

Garrison, who's been creating his pieces for nearly 45 years, now travels to only four shows a year, and he chooses them carefully, he said.

The shows he picks have to offer easy load-in and load-out, he said. Nearby accommodations are a plus. And the show must attract a crowd affluent enough that he can sell at least six of his pieces, which is what it takes to cover the cost of traveling to the show.

Even though it was new and unproven, Garrison and his wife and travel partner Marilyn put Autumn & Art on their itinerary.

"Everything we look for in a show, this one was offering," Marilyn said.

By midday Saturday, Garrison had won a Best in Show ribbon for three-dimensional mixed media and had sold two of his more expensive pieces.

One of his customers was Lianne Compton, a Wichitan who bought a golf-themed train for her husband Ralph's approaching birthday.

Ralph loves golf and trains, so the piece, constructed using golf balls, golf tees, typewriter parts and a handle from an old can opener , was perfect for him.

"I'm so glad Wichita has this now," said Compton, who'd also ordered two custom rings for friends' birthdays. "I moved here from California, and we used to go to art shows all the time there. Please, more."

If you go>

Autumn & Art

What: A fine arts show and sale.

Where: Bradley Fair Parkway, the road that runs behind Bradley Fair shopping center at 21st and Rock

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday

How much: Admission is free, as are children's craft activities in a family art pavilion. Bradley Fair restaurants will sell food from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.

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