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Wilson Center's art festival in Brookfield draws a record number of artists

Hidden River event is in its ninth year

Sept. 2, 2014

An artistic event that keeps on growing will see a record number of artists displaying their work during the weekend of Sept. 13 – 14.

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts will host its 9th annual Hidden River Art Festival, offering a stage for 120 artists from seven states across the Midwest.

"It's really encouraging to see it growing, and hopefully we'll see more visitors as well," visual arts manager Robin Luther said.

The festival will feature all kinds of art, ranging from handmade jewelry to painting, and from sculpture to drawing.

"There's a lot of really great variety," Luther said.

Katie Musolff, a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, recalls participating in the Hidden River Art Festival in its first seven years.

"They were starting when I was starting and I think it's a great thing for people like me who were just out of art school," Musolff said.

Luther agrees that the festival provides a convenient way for emerging artists to get their work displayed in front of an audience.

"Most have recently just graduated from Wisconsin schools," Luther said.

This year, a panel of three judges selected 120 artists out of the 175 applicants. The artists will be competing during the first day of the festival for awards including Best-In-Show, Artists' Choice, Peoples' Choice, and honorable mentions.

The winner of the Peoples' Choice award will be invited back to have a solo exhibition in the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center's gallery in January.

Luther notes that this is only the second year in which the Hidden River Art Festival has been open to emerging artists outside of Wisconsin.

"Previously it was all Wisconsin artists, but now we're kind of wanting to represent all of the Midwest," Luther said.

Still, most of the artists come from inside state lines. Luther estimates that around 15 of this year's artists are from Brookfield or the Waukesha County area.

The festival also has activities planned for children.

"We have a kids' art tent, where they'll be able to contribute to painting birdhouses that we'll be displaying around the Wilson Center, and we'll also have some take-home arts and crafts projects that kids can work on," Luther said.

In its 9th year, Musolff agrees with Luther that the growth of the event is encouraging and she credits the Wilson Center with making such evolution possible.

"Whenever an art festival is new, they really have to evaluate themselves every year. They can't just assume they're doing a good job," Musolff said. "Every year, they sit down and evaluate what they can do better and they always do a very good job at that."

The Hidden River Art Festival is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is set up in Mitchell Park outside the Wilson Center. Tickets can be purchased online at HiddenRiverArtFestival.com or by calling 262-781-9520.

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