Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians that other people love, and farm animals competing for cash prizes and herd bragging rights. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food.
…but sometimes we also like browsing the wares, works, and wonders brought forth by the artists and collectors who grace the various exhibit halls with the things they’ve made, built, sewn, restored, or salvaged for other Hoosiers to see. None of these items were for sale, but a few could command impressive prices if they ever held post-fair auctions.
Admittedly I’ve never understood the competition that seems best described as “bring in an old object, win a prize”. I used to think it was a restoration/repair contest, but sometimes the wear ‘n’ tear doesn’t show any sign of handiwork. Still, if the primary criteria is that the found artifacts represent Something Different, then our hats are off to the following standouts:
Among the many categories you’ll see in the exhibit halls, one of the largest is never mentioned in the brochures, in the radio ads, or by attendees to each other: kiddie posters! Every year hundreds of kids from all 92 Indiana counties cobble together instructional posters to bring awareness to ignorant strangers about their chosen fields of study. Sometimes they’re photography collages; sometimes they’re cutouts of Wikipedia paragraphs; sometimes they’re toys glued to posterboard; sometimes they’re weird and inscrutable, but you know their parents are proud and love them very much. And on rare occasion, instead of titling their educational masterpiece with textbook boilerplate, if you’re lucky you might just glimpse a spark of innovation that defies the norm, leaps out at you, and refuses to let you walk away unchanged.
Among the walls and racks covered by pieces from local artists, this year featured a special gallery of watercolor paintings by local celebrity Karen Pence. Along with her Master’s degree in elementary education from Butler University, Pence has also made a steady career of watercolor commissions. That’s, y’know, in addition to any reasons you might’ve heard of her in a national context.
To be concluded!