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Naperville art fair — the oldest in Illinois — draws thousands to Naper Settlement – Chicago Tribune

As she admired a public mural recreating her bluish, dream-like painting of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, floating over the US Capitol, Cat Clausen couldn’t help but smile.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing,” she said, as a few feet away, volunteers stapled the last of the 8-by-8-inch squares — more than 100 of them, each painted by a member of the community — onto a large plywood board to create a jumbo-sized version of her artwork.

“I still remember doing each circle, and now I see so many people cooperating together to make it, which is more special,” said Clausen, a portraiture and seascape painter from Dwight. “Like, when would this ever happen again?”

The public mural was one of the unique experiences at the 62nd Naperville Fine Art & Artisan Fair held over the weekend at Naper Settlement. The juried show, presented each year by the Naperville Woman’s Club, brought 104 artists from across the country: sculptors to jewelers, painters to furniture makers. Funds from the event benefitted local food pantries and college scholarships.

“There are a lot of amazing artists,” fair director Marie Gnesda said. “It’s a historic art fair. It’s the longest running art fair in Illinois.”

The best-in-show winner was Gregory Frederic, a modern eclectic acrylic painter from Haiti, while the Naperville Woman’s Club Award (for second place) went to Inna and Alex Deriy, mixed media artists inspired by the natural beauty of minerals. Several thousand people attended the event.

“It rained yesterday, but today’s a beautiful day,” said Nancy de la Hoz, president of the Naperville Woman’s Club, as she smartly wore a sun hat Sunday. “People started coming in at 10 in the morning, and the flow has been steady throughout the day.”

Another draw of the fair was artist Greg Steele providing free caricature drawings for the public. On Sunday afternoon, 3-year-old Aria Pearlman and her sister, Alexis, 4, sat patiently as he sketched them. Their family had just moved to Naperville three weeks earlier. It marked one of the first events they attended, 63 years after a group of women started it for people just like them.

“We’ve been doing this to give back to the community, to give people the community something to come out to see,” de la Hoz said.

Giles Bruce is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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