New artists and alumni return for Lac Ste. Claire fair

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 9, 2015

 “St. Denis Catholic Church” is a colored pencil and ink drawing by Martin Bucknarish, of Sterling Heights, who will be at the Lac Ste. Claire Fine Art Fair for the first time this year.

“St. Denis Catholic Church” is a colored pencil and ink drawing by Martin Bucknarish, of Sterling Heights, who will be at the Lac Ste. Claire Fine Art Fair for the first time this year.

Image provided by Martin Bucknarish

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — For Martin Bucknarish, art didn’t come to be a big part of his life until he was laid up with back surgery a decade ago.


“I was a design engineer for most of my life,” said Bucknarish, of Sterling Heights.


Now 63, the colored pencil and ink artist began by sketching to keep himself occupied and started seeing improvement after about two years. Working as a visionary artist, Bucknarish said most of his artwork reflects visions in his head and dreams of other worlds. Every piece, he said, has a story.


For the first time this year, Bucknarish will be showing his work at the Lac Ste. Claire Fine Art Fair, where he will be selling 11-by-17-inch prints of his work, most of them framed. And while visionary art is more popular on the West Coast and in California, the younger crowd really enjoys his style, he said, and he also paints realistic pieces like a church from Lexington, Michigan, where he vacations.


“My work is not 21st-century work, it’s like 22nd-, 23rd-century work,” he said. “It’s a new type of art. Very detailed, and each one has a story.”


This is the 28th year for the Lac Ste. Claire Fine Art Fair, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20 at Veterans Memorial Park. Entrants chair Sara-rose Melby said it’s getting harder and harder to find artwork like Bucknarish’s, drawn in pencil and ink.


“You’re seeing fewer and fewer painters and pencil and ink artists,” she said. “Everything’s becoming very digital.”


The fair raises money for scholarships for the Miss St. Clair Shores program, and this year’s winner, Shelby Gardener, of St. Clair Shores, will be in attendance at the fair. Also in attendance throughout the two days of the fair will be Miss St. Clair Shores Outstanding Teen Olivia Jourdan, and the 15 princesses that participated in the new princess program that took the place of the Little Miss St. Clair Shores pageant this year.


The fair focuses on fine art, Melby said, and does not have any vendors or crafters. There are a wide variety of mediums represented, though, from stained glass to usable pottery and painters like Walt Kempski, of St. Clair Shores, who has participated in the fair for about 22 years.


Kempski uses oil paints to do his landscape pieces, which represent his travels over the years from Italy, Austria and Stratford, Ontario, to nearby locales like Greenfield Village and Belle Isle.


“In the opening days, it was a show that attracted artists from all over the country,” Kempski said. “To a certain extent, it still does that. There’s still a representation of everything in this show, and that’s one of the things that I like about it. Plus, it’s an ideal setting.”


Kempski will have a variety of sizes of paintings available in different price ranges. A longtime member of the Lakeside Palette Club, he said the 120-member group will also have a presence at the fair looking for new members.


Melby said many of this year’s artists are local. About 100 artists will participate during the two-day fair, and visitors will also be able to create art with the Detroit Institute of Arts. This year’s project is monogram tiles.


“People can go in and make a free little piece of art they can take home with them,” Melby said. “They had such a great turnout last year when they came that they wanted to be with us again.”


The Friends of the St. Clair Shores Public Library will also have a booth at the fair with books on art, photography and other subjects, and the Historical Society of St. Clair Shores will raffle off a queen-size quilt and a framed reproduction photograph of the Shores Theatre at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20. Tickets cost $1 and are available for purchase at the library before the fair.


The Lac Ste. Claire Fine Art Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20 at Veterans Memorial Park on Jefferson Avenue at Masonic Boulevard. There is no admission or parking charge, but donations are welcome. The fair is also looking for sponsors for the 2016 show. Those interested can email sararosemelby@ymail.com.

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