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Art in the Park: A Festival of Color and Creativity Right in Your Own Back Yard

If you've been thinking a trip to Wilder Park is in order, this is the weekend to go.

Art in the Park, for anyone with even a passing interest in hand-made artistry, is an inspirational thing. Even for those ruled by their left brain, the color, beauty and creative spirit that will fill Wilder Park this Saturday and Sunday makes the event worth a visit.

And, for the right brainers out there, be prepared to be tantalized by the more than 100 artists that will be displaying their wares, specializing in everything from woods to textiles, photography to jewelry, and anything else imaginable. Where else can one see industrial metal sculptures, delicate jewelry made from semi-precious gems, photos that look like paintings and paintings that look like photos, fiber crafts and hand-made home accents all in the same place?

Artists from all over the Midwest and beyond will share the park with some of our local talent, including Donna Castellanos. The life-long Elmhurst resident and York graduate is often using her largely self-taught artistic expertise to help others, and this year's Art in the Park is no exception.

Castellanos, working with Lisa Stoik of Park Place of Elmhurst, recruited some senior citizens to help decorate fanciful fabric birds. The seniors were free to work on the birds as part of a crafting project at the retirement community. They made a pile of them, and Castellanos has made hundreds more. She will be selling them at her booth this weekend.

"People can buy a bird for $5 and they get a raffle ticket," Castellanos said, adding the raffle winner will receive one of her original creations, a bird painting.

The proceeds from the raffle will go to the Emergency Clothes Closet in Oak Park, which donates outdoor clothing to the homeless.

The birds are whimsical—they even have names—and can be wrapped around a wine bottle or perched atop a gift box, hung from door knobs, clipped on Christmas trees or any number of other uses.

Castellanos also will be selling an eclectic array of hand-crafted items—fabric flowers, paintings and more—all in her signature style and created in her home studio.

Castellanos loves to find seemingly useless objects people have discarded and turn them into art.

"I go to estate sales every Friday. A lot of my work is defined by what I find. Sometimes I pick things up and I don't know what I'm going to do with them," she said, adding that one of her latest projects is making charms from the words in old dictionaries.

One thing she won't be bringing is anything breakable. had many artists chasing after their nearly airborne tents. The National Weather Service is predicting a 30 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday, with a high around 70 degrees. Seasoned artists know to bring their tarps.

It's the 16th year of the Park District-sponsored event, which typically draws visitors from the entire Chicago area. Art in the Park will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, rain or shine. Admission is free. Attendees also can enjoy kettle corn, Italian ice and other snacks, as well as kids' activities.

Admission to will be free both days. And, will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch; stop and take a break and enjoy an array of cuisine available for purchase. No reservations are needed.

ROP May 10, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Dear Art in the Park, Can something please be done to shake up the vendors? I appreciate your existence and look forward to you each year, but the last couple of years you have begun to bore me with a lot of the "same ol' same ol'". Is there a way to attract a better variety of vendors, to spice things up? Why not make it a bigger deal, and have a concert at night? Beer garden? With the summer concert series gone, there's a real opportunity to expand.
Elm Forest May 05, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Hey ROP how much of the stuff have you purchased since you stated coming to this event? And you think a beer garden? Seriously? Like that's going to help. What? Certainly not Art and Crafts in the park. I know most everyone thinks that since its titled Art in the Park somehow the stuff that's for sale is art. Probably none of it is art. It is all craft and is there for you to buy. The people producing this stuff are looking at a price tag for everything they make when they make it, before they make it. That's the reason they make it, the stuff in the park is just inventory of craft items. Nothing that's in the park needs to be stated because it was all said before, long ago. It's only there for you to buy because it hopefully brings you some pleasure; it's a craft fair......nothing more. So why don't they call it what it is? Rhetorical.

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