Matthew Coglianese wanted his art to stand out.
Just like many artists, the digital photographer had displayed his works in large glass frames at art festivals.
So, he decided to experiment.
Coglianese, a Mt. Greenwood native, now prints all his works on sheets of aluminum, using a special ink and a heat press.
The result is photos with colors that are “super rich” and “super vibrant,” he said, and they will be on display at the second annual Ridge Park Art Fair and Festival on June 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Coglianese, now a Hyde Park resident, calls himself “The Pigshark,” an ode to a drawing he made in college of a pig’s head on a shark’s body.
He will join dozens of other artists, many of them local, at the art fair, which is accepting applications for artists until Monday, April 15.
Coglianese planned to participate last year but became ill the day before the event. He will have about 30 photos on display, showing his ability to use PhotoShop to blend his love of architecture and science fiction.
“One of the things I really like to do is take a picture and turn it into something completely surreal, and it could never exist; but I make it look real and like it does exist,” Coglianese said. “I like to play with the reality of my image.”
Sponsored by the Chicago Park District, Ridge Park Advisory Council and John H. Vanderpoel Art Association, the art fair supports local artists and features fine art, wood working, ceramics, jewelry, leather crafts, textiles, photography, sculpture and art glass.
Tours of the Vanderpoel Art Museum, located inside the Ridge Park Cultural Center, will take place during the festival, which will also feature live music, food trucks and children’s activities. The park’s ceramics studio will also be open, with instructor Vida Radic welcoming visitors.
The cost for artists to participate and receive booth space is $85, including a $20 non-refundable deposit that is required with applications; artists may also apply for free space.
Coglianese’s artwork is displayed in 31 states and five continents, and he has participated in fests around the city, including the Beverly Art Walk, hosted by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance since 2014.
He is encouraged that more events are being held locally that mimic large events on the North Side.
“There’s really not that much going on the far South Side of Chicago in terms of those kinds of art fests,” Coglianese said, “so it’s nice to see all the other South Side neighborhoods starting up too with their own art fests.”
Irene Testa, president of the Vanderpoel Art Association, said last year’s festival featured about 40 artists and attracted about 1,000 visitors.
Artists set up their works along a walking path that circumvents much of the 10-acre park.
Last year “went really well,” she said, and she’s keeping her fingers crossed that the weather cooperates for another successful event.
“This is a nice way to celebrate the beginning of summer,” Testa said. “Nearly all the exhibits last year were from the South Side, and it looks like we’re going to have the same scenario again this year.”
Susan Larsen, who makes contemporary organic art jewelry, will participate for the second year. She will sell earrings, pendants and pins made of sterling silver and copper.
Larsen grew up in Beverly and now lives in the southwest suburbs. She has a master’s degree in fine arts and has created jewelry for 20 years.
“I’m inspired by geometry and nature,” Larsen said. “I’m inspired to kind of combine the two to create the art piece.”
Larsen still visits Beverly often to see her mother, and she has participated in the Beverly Art Walk and the Uprising Craft Handmade Holiday Market, also hosted by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance. She said Beverly is now becoming a “hub” for arts.
She credits local organizations for creating events like the art festival.
Testa is grateful for other community staples leading the way.
“We thank God for organizations like the Beverly Area Arts Alliance and the [Beverly Arts Center],” Testa said, “who show us how vital the arts community is to Beverly/Morgan Park.”
For more information, visit the website at ridgeparkartfair.org.