Local art festival commemorates former first lady, beauty of nature


Marisa Vasquez

Elyse Sens talks to customers about the water stones she creates and sells at the Lady Bird Johnson Arts and Artisans Festival, Sunday afternoon. The festival was held in honor of Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday and featured various local artists that highlight nature in Texas with their work.

David Leffler

The annual Lady Bird Johnson Artists and Artisans Festival allows people to view exhibits and purchase artwork that highlights the beauty of Texas’ environment.

Over 20 art vendors and several hundred visitors attended the event, which took place at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center on Saturday and Sunday. The exhibits featured many different styles of art, including watercolor, origami and mixed media collage.

Joseph Hammer, director of product marketing at the Wildflower Center, said the festival serves as part of the center’s commemoration of the former first lady’s centennial.

“She would have been 100 this year, so we have special events to commemorate her life,” he said. “She liked art and collected some herself, and this event gave her a chance to interact with people who shared those sentiments.”

Hammer said the festival allows people to view nature in a different way than they normally would.

“It’s kind of ironic. Sometimes people see more when they look at a painting than when they look at the real thing,” he said. “I’ve often thought some of these wildflower paintings make people view plants a completely new way.”

Hammer said the festival displays the wildflower center’s values in a fun, interactive way that many people enjoy.

“We want to help people appreciate the art in nature,” he said. “It’s great that people recognize this is an important place. This center is not just about Austin or Texas, it’s part of a North American environmental organization and we pride ourselves on that.”

Sue Kemp, an artist and watercolor paint instructor in the art school of Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria, has shown her paintings at the festival for more than 10 years. Kemp said depictions of nature in artwork can touch people deeply.

“Art allows people to discover a story within a piece they relate to and find a deeper meaning,” she said. “In turn, nature lets you get away from the business of life and routine of things.”

Kemp said artwork that depicts nature can affect someone positively just as much as the real thing.

“In between our busy lives, nature is a good escape — whether you do so in person or through artwork,” she said.

Kelly Fisher, who attended the festival, said she was blown away by the different artistic styles present at the festival and how they portrayed nature.

“It’s great to see local Texas artists here, I’ve been very impressed,” she said. “It’s nice to see what people are doing locally with materials and the wildlife here.”

Fisher said having nature and artwork depicted side-by-side helps people take a close look at its beauty and appreciate all its qualities.

“It’s nice to be able to have the inspiration and product of human creativity close by each other,” Fisher said. “It’s great to be here and have the opportunity to view nature in such a unique way.”

Printed on Monday, March 19, 2012 as: Local art festival displays Texas nature