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Art, ice cream draw crowds at Ellwood House

DeKALB – Tamara Shriver doesn’t have to look far to find inspiration for her art. 

The vast cornfields, barns and Midwestern flora of DeKalb County were gorgeous enough for the DeKalb resident to capture in her watercolor paintings. On Sunday, she was among 40 artists displaying and selling their art at the Ellwood House Museum Art Fair and Ice Cream Social. 

For Shriver, the beauty of the Ellwood House and Park – at 509 N. First St. in DeKalb – and the pleasant summer weather made the location the right spot for artists to show off their work. 

“It’s a perfect place for the fair,” Shriver said. 

This year was the first time the Ellwood House Museum combined the art fair with the ice cream social, said Brian Reis, executive director of the museum. The art fair has been a tradition with the house for about 40 years and it is usually held in early July, he said. 

The fair faced competition with other events during that time, so it was held along with the ice cream social to reinvigorate interest in both events, Reis said. 

“It’s a really nice community event,” he said. “It’s something we’re only able to put on this time of the year.” 

The art fair used to welcome more artists in the past but this year the number was kept at 40, Reis said. One of those artists was David Zahn, who displayed bronze and ceramic sculptures of surreal, human-like forms. 

Zahn, a Moline resident, said he strives to create sculptures that evoke an emotional feeling but can also be decorative. When he begins making his sculptures, he doesn’t always set out with a plan.  

“When I’m making my the works, I do them intuitively,” Zahn said. 

One sculpture of a man who appeared to be stretching apart was called “Time Passes.” Zahn said the sculpture was about passing away and accepting death as part of nature. 

The fair wasn’t the first time for Shriver, who has showed her watercolor paintings there at least six times before. But it was the first time for Jody O’Neil, who traveled about 257 miles from Indiana to show her abstract watercolor paintings. 

O’Neil said she finds inspiration from spirituality and images of the cosmos. Art fairs such as the one held at the Ellwood Park give good exposure for local artists, she said. 

“For those trying to make a living, it’s important to support American artists,” she said. 

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