SAP Arts Festival three featured artists

By Janet Wight

The 55th annual St. Anthony Park Arts Festival will fill the neighborhood with arts galore on Saturday, June 1.

This year’s one-day celebration will feature more than 50 juried artists on and near the grounds of the neighborhood library along with musicians, a community plant sale and a giant used book sale.

The featured artists for 2024 are Anna Stark, Warren Slocum and Melinda Wolff.

Anna Stark

Self-taught oil painter Anna Stark specializes in photo realism. She paints nostalgic objects such as vintage candies, gaming consoles and pop cans with an eye for detail.

In 2020, Stark began teaching herself to create paintings that resemble photographs.

Frequently, people attending art fairs pass by her booth assuming that her intricate paintings are actually photographs. Once they realize that they are looking at oil paintings, they are frequently surprised.

“I am going for that wow factor,” she said. “I am also going for a three-dimensional look.”

Her aim is to pull on the heartstrings of potential customers, she explained. She also paints colorful floral arrangements.

From a young age, Stark enjoyed being a crafter and creating art. She attended the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley but focused on film and photography.

Painting is a new medium that she has been exploring for the past few years, beginning with watercolors, then moving to acrylics and finally graduating to oil paints. She has spent thousands of hours perfecting her craft and it is now starting to pay off, she said.

Growing up in Richfield, Stark’s home was filled with oil paintings created by her great-grandmother. She always admired those paintings. Now that she is an oil painter herself, she feels a close connection to her great-grandmother.

Prices for Stark’s original artwork range from $150 to $3,000. Prints, magnets and stickers are also available, ranging in price from $4 to $20.

Her advice to budding artists? “Paint what is in your heart and what brings you joy,” she said.

Stark attended Columbia College Chicago and majored in marketing. She is employed full-time at a local nonprofit agency in addition to her roles as an artist and mother of three children.

She is not afraid to admit that her goal is to be famous and to be known around the world. For more information, or to view Stark’s art, visit artbyannastark.com.

Warren Slocum

New Richmond, Wisconsin, artist Warren Slocum specializes in mirrors and stained-glass windows in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes.

“My glass work includes traditional leaded glass techniques, as well as innovative use of new procedures, to make both my stained-glass windows/mirrors and my kiln-produced cast/fused designs, all of which are original,” according to a statement provided by Slocum on the festival website.

Additionally, he makes his own wood frames out of oak. Aluminum and rounded copper frames are also options, he added.

Slocum’s website, frontiernet.net/~dooda, includes examples of his handiwork. Custom work is available upon request. “The substitution of colors, alteration of dimensions, and many other factors influence the final outcome of pieces…,” he explained.

Melinda Wolff

The rich and varied hues of exotic and domestic woods are featured in the bold necklaces designed by artist Melinda Wolff.

Using scrap pieces from her husband Brian’s woodworking shop, Wolff creates necklaces, earrings and bracelets with sustainability in mind, she said, with a price range of $30 to $300.

No stains or dyes are used when creating the jewelry. Instead, the pieces are coated with resin, which accentuates the natural beauty of the wood, she said.

Growing up in Woodbury, Wolff and her sisters spent hours in the backyard immersed in nature, where her early imagination and creativity took shape, she explained. These early experiences provided her with a “really beautiful appreciation for Mother Nature,” she added.

“I’ve always been an artist even when I was a little kid. I would always be drawing or coloring,” she said.

Wolff graduated from the College of Saint Benedict, majoring in studio art while focusing on ceramics, jewelry and painting. She has also explored watercolor and stained glass.

After college, Wolff worked in creative fields as well as in the corporate world. About eight years ago she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time artist. It has been her labor of love ever since.

Wolff relishes the process of creating art. “Seeing my creativity brings joy to the people that see my work,” she said.

Her handiwork led to the Best in Show award for jewelry at the Lakeville Art Festival, and she also received an honorable mention at the Eagan Art Festival.

In her spare time, Wolff enjoys visiting Minnesota state parks and tent camping with her husband, accompanied by their dog Walter. She also enjoys reading mysteries and other genres and she has a “crazy knack” for finding four-leaf clovers, she said.

Her suggestions to artists just starting out are applicable to many pursuits. “You don’t have to know everything in order to start creating. Everyone is a beginner at some point,” she said.   

 “Don’t stop because of a rejection,” she added. “Try to learn from it and keep going.”. She also recommends making friends with other artists.

Wolff’s jewelry is available at a variety of boutiques and galleries throughout Minnesota. To learn more visit melindawolff.com.

Visit sapfest.org for more information, a detailed schedule, a festival map or to make a donation. 

Janet Wight lives in the Como neighborhood and is a regular Bugle freelance writer.

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