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Hangin' it up: From running show to showing own art

Staff writer

Judy Christensen spent 40 years running Marion’s Art in the Park and Craft Show, focusing on others’ art instead of her own.

A longtime artist, she sat out all that time, even though she was churning out all types of art — oil and acrylic paintings, fabric painting and ceramics — and teaching art as well.

“I didn’t think I should show when I was chair,” she said.

She will exhibit her paintings at the 44th annual show Sept. 17 and 18.

Christensen is setting up three tents full of her work. She’s eager to have fairgoers see her work, and she’s eager to help clean out the Marion Reservoir home where she’s lived for 47 years.

“I know there are people in Marion who know I paint but don’t know what I paint,” she said.

During her career as an artist, Christensen showed in Emporia, Wichita, Kansas City, Salina, and other cities.

Self-taught, Christensen was drawn to the arts as an only child looking for something to do.

“I learned how to entertain myself,” she said, recalling that she made paper dolls and painted on her mother’s tea towels and other textiles.

She was an art education major at the University of Kansas and taught art for many years at junior colleges and high schools. She’s a member of Kansas Wheathearts, a chapter of the Society of Decorative Painters.

Christensen exhibited her work at the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Fair and suggested after a few years that “maybe Marion could have one on the same day,” she said.

“I said, ‘People will go to both. Why not bring some of that money to Marion?’ ” she recalled. “At first it went over like a lead balloon.”

Putting on the fair, she said, was “a lot of hard work.” Prospective vendors hoping to show at Art in the Park would send photos of their work to organizers for review by Christensen and community enrichment director Margo Yates.

“They would tell us about how they’d make things, and I would ask about their process. If they couldn’t explain the process, then I knew it wasn’t handmade,” Christensen said.

Occasionally, people would submit work and then show up with imports, she said.

The fair now accepts work from commercial vendors, including party-based and multi-level marketing businesses.

Yates is looking forward to seeing Christensen show her own wares.

“It’ll be fun to have her there,” Yates said. “It was an adjustment last year doing it without her. She’s been the pillar stone of it for decades. I doubt it would have got going without her.”

Last modified Sept. 15, 2022

 

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