Joan Miller, left, and Carolyn Faust, both of Maumee, examine works by Joan Drizin of Noblesville, Ind. The 49th Annual Crosby Festival of the Arts continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.
When he was 14, Jose Muenala Anguaya would climb the mountainsides of the Ecuadorian Andes and spend hours trying to teach himself to play a pan flute that a relative had given him.
Two years later, he dedicated himself to learning the jewelry-making tradition of his ancestors.
On Saturday, the now 36-year-old Mr. Anguaya’s music and jewelry drew crowds of onlookers and buyers at the Crosby Festival of the Arts at the Toledo Botanical Garden.
Despite hot, humid weather, thousands strolled through the festival gates, organizers said. The event continues today.
Mr. Anguaya’s wife Suzanne Reed hypothesized, “I think his jewelry is so popular because he employs traditional, indigenous techniques in a modern way.”
The couple, who live in Evanston, Ill., have participated in the Crosby festival for 15 years.
They also are members of a troupe called Sisai that travels across the United States performing traditional music of the Andes.
Saturday’s hottest seller, not including the goods sold by food and beverage vendors, was art made of copper, festival organizers said.
Alison Houghtaling, 31, of Maumee could testify to that.
She scooped up a large copper leaf sculpted to look like a Michigan State University Spartan football helmet for $70.
Har Simrit Singh of Toledo, an ‘aerosol graffiti artist,’ works on a Fiat 500. Work at the Crosby show include glass, graphics, painting, and photography.
To eliminate any doubt, a large green crystal was embedded in the middle of the sculpture.
Mrs. Houghtaling said she bought it in honor of her husband John, who attended medical school at the university.
“We bleed [MSU] green in this family,” Mrs. Houghtaling said proudly as she held her newly purchased prize.
Steve Anderson, a sculptor for 38 years from Cedar Springs, Mich., said his Michigan State art has always been his best seller — regardless of where he is.
Lucy Wiltsie, 7, left, and Lilly Smith, 9, both of Delphos, Ohio, add puzzle pieces to a children’s art project in the Crosby Festival of the Arts Children’s Artistic Playhouse! sponsored by Mercy. Admission to the festival is free for children under 12.
“For some reason Spartans are the most loyal fans in the world,” he said. “If I’m in Ann Arbor, I still sell more Spartan sculptures. The same thing goes for when I’m in Ohio, or Florida. MSU fans always seem to find me.”
Mr. Anderson, 62, said he has participated in more than 1,500 art shows during his career, but the Crosby Festival remains his favorite, and things have changed quite a bit over the years.
“Thirty years ago they made all the vendors wait at the fence and then, when it was time, you had to run and find your own spot to set up,” said Mr. Anderson, laughing as he recalled the ensuing chaos.
“But the organizers and attendees have always been nice and treat us well.”
Jan Bowden, owner of Bowden Bells & Garden Art from northeast Ohio’s Big Prairie, was participating in the Crosby show for the first time.
“This is a big show,” she said. “I’ve been trying for 15 years to get in.”
Sally Wade, of Sally Wade Works, uses a punch she created. By designing her own punches, the Tyler, Texas, woman says she can create ‘one-of-a-kind every-day jewelry.’ The Crosby show says it has more than 200 artists.
Although the section she was given was cramped, her quirky and bright works of art made of metal and glass caught the eyes of many.
Several festival-goers were impressed that Mrs. Bowden and her husband, Vince, use recycled materials, such as old oxygen tanks that they convert into functioning bells.
Yvonne Keesee, a Toledo teacher, and her friend Ellen Shartz, a Toledo pharmacist, stopped to marvel at Mrs. Bowden’s yard art made of various metals and glass.
“It’s really nice,” said Ms. Keesee, who shyly admitted feeling there’s a budding artist within her.
“Her work is very colorful, funky art. I’m just here trying to get new ideas.”
Mrs. Bowden overheard the women’s conversation and said she hopes Ms. Keesee pursues her dream.
Growing up, her father forbade her from pursuing art because he thought “it was a waste of time” and “you couldn’t make a living doing it,” Mrs. Bowden said.
“I was an income-tax auditor for seven years and I was making good money,” Mrs. Bowden said. “But I came out of the womb practically drawing. I was always a good photographer and picked up metal work and glass art really quickly.
“Right after my father died I quit my job, and I’ve spent the past 21 years as an artist. Am I rich? No. But I’m rich in thoughts and creativity and joy in what I do.”
The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Toledo Botanical Garden, 5403 Elmer Dr. Admission is $8. Garden members and children under 12 are admitted free.
Contact Federico Martinez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6154.