by CLAIRE WEBER
The last days of summer host one of the season’s most anticipated events. The 43rd Northfield Hills Art On-the-Lake takes place this year on Sunday, August 27. The juried show features more than 100 artists covering a whole spectrum of imaginative artwork.
A new artist to seek out is Mingzhi Chen of Wired Reality LLC.
Chen was originally inspired while traveling in his native China, where he observed street artists making knickknacks and small items out of aluminum wire. Chen, who has lived in the U.S., for 15 years, came home and started crafting his own imaginative wire art, ramping up his creations several notches above the street level.
The artist buys spools of aluminum wire online and fashions his creations, ranging from key chains to elaborate wall art, “transformers” creatures, and exotic Bonsai-like plants. Chen uses a variety of tools but admits much of the work is done by hand, and his hands often take a beating to get the wire the way he envisions it.
At this point, Chen’s wire art has been selling privately to customers who see it and must acquire it at prices ranging from $5 to $300. Every creation is original and unique. Even when he tries to duplicate a piece, because the medium is rigid, it is never exactly the same. The quality is structured and meticulous which is especially obvious in the larger pieces.
One of Chen’s biggest admirers, who saw the artwork at the eatery where his partner and Chen work, is Adam Vance. The banker, who is working at learning the wire skills, has taken on the task of transforming the artist’s “hobby” into a profitable endeavor.
In addition to the actual art pieces, Chen and Vance are putting together kits, where interested kids and adults can fabricate their own wire art. “This is our first art fair,” says Vance. “We want to gauge our public perception and see what gets the most attention.” He added there will be a silent auction for a chosen piece at their stall.
Vance characterizes himself as the promoter/marketer of the business and says they will be looking into other sales venues as well as online and Facebook outlets.
Vance and Chen picked a good place to start their public exhibitions. Art-on-the-Lake is a well-respected, family-friendly event. In addition to the wide variety of art on display, there will be a kid’s area for crafts and art-related activities. And, as usual, there will be a large variety of food choices. Remember, there is no admission charge and parking is free (with any donations going to the Boy Scouts).
Sponsored by the Northfield Hills Condominium Association and various area businesses, proceeds from the art show benefit association activities throughout the year, says condo rep Kathleen Deburghgraeve. She also wants to remind you to stop at the hospitality booth where there will be prizes and raffles for gift cards.
So plan to visit Art-on-the-Lake Sunday, August 27 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It’s a great time to start your Christmas shopping.
Cross your fingers and hope for good weather! Art-on-the-Lake takes place this year on Sunday, August 27, from 10-6 around the lake at Long Lake Rd. and Coolidge in Troy. To see more of Mingzhi Chen’s art, go to facebook.com/wiredreality.