Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Bob Jennings’

Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival Celebrates 50 Years – August 9-11, 2019

50th LogoArtists, Entertainers, and lovers of the arts have been attending the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival for 50 years. It’s come a long way from that preliminary festival, which was held on the courthouse lawn.

Musical Group R

Entertainment at that first festival was provided by “The Group” with Mike McWilliams, front, Don Mercer, Mike Kennedy, Mike McVicker, and Dale Brenning.

   The one-day downtown Salt Fork Arts Festival was sponsored by the Greater Cambridge Arts Council with Dr. Milton Thompson the president and Don Mercer serving as coordinator. Its goal was to promote all the arts including acting, music, literature, and art. The Best of Show that year went to Nancy Lewis of New Concord for a still life. The evening was spent dancing in the First National Bank parking lot.

Sue Dodd R

Sue Dodd demonstrated her painting skills under a tree at the park at an early festival.

   August 14-17, 1969, the festival moved to the Cambridge City Park as a four-day event. It was advertised as the First Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. That year the newspaper stated there were four tents and 65 artists. Entertainment varied from YMCA Gymnasts and Bexley Puppet Theater to Cambridge Barbershoppers and Sweet Adelines.

Jack Taylor saying thanks R

Jack Taylor says thanks to Bob Amos, Lois Craig and Art Marr who had major roles in that first Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Arthur Marr served as chairman of that first official festival with assistance from Bob and Hannah Amos and Mrs. Lois Craig. Mrs. Claude Nickerson and her committee were in charge of the artists while Bill Coffey handled the performing arts. The Cambridge CB React Club took charge of parking and patrolling. Pavlov Music provided background organ and piano music and Scott Funeral Home provided seating. It was a real community effort.

SFF Fences

In the early years, paintings were displayed on snow fences.

   The Cambridge National Honor Society and members of the Key Club helped by setting up chairs, tables and snow fences. In those early festival days, pictures by artists and student artists were hung on snow fences for display. Young artists have always been a popular and important feature of the festival.

SFF Laura and Rodgers

Pictured at a reception at the Lekorenos home are Shannon Rodgers, Laura Bates (wearing a Rodgers/Silverman dress creation) and Jerry Silverman. Photo by George Lekorenos.

   It was in 1969 that Newcomerstown native, Shannon Rodgers, renowned dress designer for Hollywood stars, gave a donation to the festival and in 1971 began sponsoring the Shannon Rodgers Award. This award was open to all artists at the festival and was voted on by the public. When this endowment ended, the award became the People’s Choice Award.

Mary Beam

Mary Beam painted a picture of the courthouse from her front porch.

   Craftsmen demonstrating their crafts at those early festivals included basket weavers, blacksmiths, ceramic artists, woodcarvers, ironworkers, gem cutters, leather workers and many more. This was to be only the beginning of many years of outstanding juried art at the festival with only hand-made pieces of art being accepted.

SFF Paula Burlingame, Sandy Carle and Bonnie Perkins - Children's Art Fair

Paula Burlingame, Sandy Carle, and Bonnie Perkins make plans for the Children’s Art Fair.

   Crafts were a popular addition at those early festivals as well. In 1971, classes in macrame, woodcarving, leaded glass and apple dolls were popular. Adults enjoyed making quilted potholders and stained glass hangings. Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment.

Lekorenos-4X5

Marie Lekorenos, local artist and passionate supporter, kept scrapbooks of those first festivals. Those scrapbooks supplied most of the information in this article.

   In those early years, the Pilot Club, an international service club of women, served as volunteers to give artisans a break while selling their wares. Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary provided refreshments on the midway selling hot dogs, ice cream, sno-cones, and cotton candy. Church groups, YMCA, and the hospital auxiliary had food stands available in the big pavilion for hungry visitors.

SFF Dick SImcox Big Band 1980

The Dick Simcox Big Band appeared several years at the festival.

   Entertainment included many musical groups as well as a performing arts group from Salt Fork Barn Theatre performing excerpts from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”. Cambridge Community Theater also did several children’s presentations. Even the Cleveland Opera Theater came several years and performed “Barber of Seville”.

SFF Frankie Yankovic America's Polka King

Frankie Yankovic, Polka King, drew one of the largest crowds ever.

   A performance that many remember was that of Frankie Yankovic, America’s Polka King. Frankie played the accordion and had two gold records – “Blue Skirt Waltz” and “Just Because”. The crowd for this performance was the largest ever remembered at the festival.

Carol and Bob R

Carol and Bob Jones were singing at the festival years ago. Carol is now Festival Director and Bob is Entertainment Coordinator.

   Back in 1986, Bob and Carol Jones presented a musical program at the festival. Today Carol is the Festival Director and Bob is Entertainment Coordinator. Their enthusiasm for the 50th Anniversary has led to a memorial “Pedestrian Gateway” being constructed at the park at a point where most visitors enter.

Briani Gray R

Brian Gray and his wooden toys have been an attraction over the years.

   While it has been great fun to look back at those early years of the festival, it’s also pleasing to know that it still has the same basic roots. The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival continues to be a juried festival with several artists from those early days still displaying their art.

Russ and Virginia (2)

Russ Shaffer and Virginia Price have displayed at the festival since its early years and will be there this year. Virginia just celebrated her 99th birthday.

   Entertainment continues every hour in the Performing Arts Tent or the Big Pavilion. Craft classes for students and adults are held in the small pavilion throughout the weekend. Admission and parking are still free.

   Set aside some time to join the 50th Anniversary celebration this August 9 -11. Wander through the artist displays in beautiful Cambridge City Park. Have lunch or pick up a snack as you sit and listen to some fine entertainment provided by talented vocalists and bands. Don’t forget to find a special treasure to take home with you to remember this special anniversary.

   50 years is cause for celebration! Make plans to attend this memorable occasion.

The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival is held annually the second weekend of August in the Cambridge City Park in Cambridge, Ohio. Cambridge is located at the crossroads of I-70 and I-77. There are several exits so watch for signs leading to the festival or the city park.

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Humble Artist Captures Area Landscapes

Bob Jennings

Bob can often be found on the street corners painting one of his beautiful pictures. Here he captures the spirit of DIckens Victorian Village at their Welcome Center.

If you walk down the streets of Cambridge, Ohio on a warm day, you’re likely to see an artist standing on a corner painting precise pictures of area architecture. Bob Jennings enjoys capturing the landscapes, but even more he enjoys talking to the people, who stop to watch him move his brush to magically capture the buildings to perfection.

Inspiration for a new picture might happen at an unusual moment. Part of what he paints is what he really sees, and part is imagination.

Bob Painting 3

Most people from Cambridge will recognize this group of historic houses along Steubenville Avenue.

The world of art isn’t new to Bob, as he has been drawing pictures since childhood. He frequently entered the art contests in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Even as a fourth grader at Garfield School, he entertained others with his drawing. At that time the playground was gravel, so Bob took his shoe and drew a perfect outline of a horse to the astonishment of those watching.

Throughout life, Bob couldn’t resist drawing pictures, and took a few art classes now and then. When he was working at Champion, other employees remember his talent as he would draw pictures on his breaks. It seems that Bob’s flair for illustrating just couldn’t help but show itself wherever he happened to be.

Bob Painting 2

Here Bob captured the scene along W. 8th Street beside the courthouse. His architectural ability shines forth in his paintings.

Thomas Jefferson has always been his hero. Jefferson’s ability to create fine American architecture started that connection. But Bob also considered Jefferson to be very intelligent, as he had a wide variety of interests, and seemed to be able to do just about anything.

Architecture became a real passion for Bob and he began designing kitchens. This led to more extensive plans for beautiful homes, additions to homes, and even churches. His intense enthusiasm as a self-made architect led to his precision in drawing, as Bob had to have everything perfect – right down to a small fraction of an inch.

Bob's painting

This winter scene displays the many ways people enjoy Dickens Victorian Village as they come by bus or car, and often take a horse and carriage ride. 

After retirement, his real art work began. In his studio at home and on the streets of the town where he lives, Bob’s pictures look as real as a photograph. But they have that extra quality of giving the building a personality.

Bob at Art Guild

Bob is always ready to talk about his passion for painting at the Art Market.

Today, Bob can frequently be found at the Art Market in downtown Cambridge. You can see his love for people as everyone who enters the door receives a sincere greeting from Bob, and he falls into a natural conversation with them. He usually tells them, in his humble way, “I’m not the brightest star in the sky”, but when it comes to his art work, he shines more than he wishes to acknowledge.

Bob sign

This sign was painted by the artist years ago at the Guernsey County Fair.

After seeing all these beautiful paintings of buildings, it was surprising to learn that Bob’s favorite thing to draw is horses. Yes, horses! Years ago he painted a quarter horse on a sign in the 4-H barn at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds, and that painting can still be found there today. At his home, his wall is covered with a large painting of horses.

Bob 2

What does this painting mean to you?

When asked if there was something special he would enjoy doing, Bob answered that he would like to get away from the precise drawings and do more “loose” paintings. Portraits came to mind as he recently painted a portrait of a man sitting on his porch with the American flag draped over his leg. Many interpretations have been made regarding this painting.

Recently, Bob saw a little boy that inspired him. Artists seem to have that innate ability to recall in detail what they have seen. He remembers exactly what that little boy looked like and what he wore. Why, he can describe him down to the creases in his pants.

Bob Painting 4

Once in a while Bob heads out of state for some art time.

When asked what advice he would give a young person, who enjoys drawing, Bob was quick to answer. “Pursue it. Even though they might never be a great artist, they would still appreciate art.”

For Bob, he feels his painting ability to be a God-given gift. He believes, “We all have our talents. No one is greater than anyone else.”

It doesn’t seem likely that we have seen the last of this humble Bob Jennings’ creations.

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