Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD – Fairfield’s plethora of artistic talent was on full display Saturday in Howard Park for the weekly farmers market.
But this was no ordinary market. This Saturday was devoted to the town’s artists, who had their artwork on display at over a dozen booths for the inaugural “Art at the Market.” Market-goers were treated to warm 80-degree weather and a chance to meet some of the most skilled artists in the state.
John Schirmer has made a living as a printmaker for 40 years, and Fairfield residents have probably seen his handiwork all over town. He carved and painted the Santa and Mrs. Claus wooden figurines the chamber puts out every winter. He made the wooden signs for Noyes Law Offices and Revelations Café, and has painted murals in the downtown.
“I’m trying to decorate the town,” Schirmer said.
Schirmer was among the artists who had their creations on display Saturday. He said the event went well, and resulted in five sales. Schirmer had a variety of art at his booth, featuring his carved blocks. He carves a picture into the wood, then applies ink to the surface. Only the uncarved portions of the block receive the ink, in a style known as relief printing. Schirmer has used this technique to create images of wildlife, landscapes and cityscapes such as Chicago and New York City. Recently, Schirmer has been branching out into other forms of art such as oil painting, and he had some of his paintings on display, too.
Bill Hurlin set up a booth to sell his mixture of modern and ancient beads, some of which could be thousands of years old. For the past eight or nine years, Hurlin has been purchasing beads and stringing them to make jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
“I’ve collected antiquities for many decades, and it felt nice to create something a person could wear like a necklace instead of keeping it tucked away in a dark drawer,” Hurlin said.
Hurlin described his sales Saturday as “mixed.” He said he sells at four or five farmers markets per year.
Alexandra Stimson’s table featured her relief sculptures that are framed and can be hung on a wall. Deities and religious figures are among her favorite themes, and her sculptures included images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Shiva and Ganesh. She had several sculptures dedicated to Lakshmi, one of the principal goddesses in Hinduism.
Stimson makes her figures by molding them first out of clay, then brushing a rubber material on them to create a mold, which is filled with a hard plaster. The plaster is self-hardening and does not need to be put into a kiln. Once it hardens, Stimson paints the plaster in vibrant colors. She said her sales Saturday went better than expected, and she made a lot of connections with market-goers.
“It was a perfect day,” she said.
Claudia Rojo has just gotten into the world of art. Rojo is a native of Cancun, Mexico, where a friend taught her how to paint stones with a dotting technique. As her wedding approached in early 2020, Rojo racked her brain about what she could give her wedding guests. She decided to paint a stone for each guest. The stones were so well received that Rojo decided to start selling them to the general public.
Rojo particularly likes painting mandala patterns on her stones and necklaces, and just a few weeks ago began painting pumpkins, too. She said Saturday was the first time she’s set up at the farmers market, and was pleased with the big crowd.
Those who want to learn more about Rojo’s work can follow her on Instagram by searching for her hashtag #contentisima.