Nearly 100 artists slated for Art in the Park May 4

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Richard Gwin/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence artist Bob Zerwekh, a Kansas University enginneering professor, displays some of his oil paintings. Zerwekh is among the nearly 100 artists who will sell work at Art in the Park, scheduled from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 4 at South Park. Zerwekh works in a highly realistic style and says patrons often tell him "That looks like a photograph."

A lot of people approach Bob Zerwekh's booth at Art in the Park expecting to take a closer look at the artist's photography.

It isn't until they're standing right next to his work that they realize a camera had nothing to do with the images.

Zerwekh's tools are oil paints, brushes and canvases -- and an uncanny knack for rendering collections of objects that look real enough to reach out and grab. Perhaps his roots in science and his natural disposition for the empirically sound are what steer him away from abstraction.

"I messed around with abstract early on but didn't find it satisfying," says Zerwekh, a professor and associate dean of engineering at Kansas University.

That's right, engineering. Zerwekh has three degrees, and not one of them is in art. He graduated from the Missouri School of Mines (now University of Missouri-Rolla), the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and Iowa State University, all with degrees in metallurgy, the science and engineering related to metals and alloys.

Other than a single two-hour course at the Kansas City Art Institute, Zerwekh is entirely self-taught. So how did he get so good at painting snapshots?

"I think it's a matter of just keeping at it, persistence," he says. "Over time, you develop a technique and become somewhat comfortable with it."

Zerwekh's work will be for sale May 4 at the 42nd annual Art in the Park, organized by the Lawrence Art Guild. He will join nearly 100 area and regional artists who sell blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, mosaics, sculpture, textiles, mixed media, photography, and oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings at the event in South Park.

A social event

The day's activities will last from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (an extension of previous years' hours). In case of rain, the event will be held May 11.

Admission is free to Art in the Park, which, in addition to salable art, also includes live music, a children's art tent sponsored by the Lawrence Arts Center, the Balloon Man and a Lawrence Humane Society booth with dogs and cats available for adoption.

Zerwekh's been bringing his work to Art in the Park intermittently since the early 1970s, when he moved to Lawrence from Iowa and "got serious" about painting. He enjoys the social aspects of the event.

"I get to see a lot of people I haven't seen for a while," he says. "I like the atmosphere. I like to go around and see what other folks are doing."

Two years ago, Zerwekh's display was good enough to win best-in-show honors. He'll offer about 15 paintings for sale this year.

Looking at his work, it would seem Zerwekh spends quite awhile meticulously arranging still life settings before ever committing paint to canvas. But in actuality, his paintings usually grow out of an interest in a single object around which he builds an environment using his imagination.

"I usually just kind of dream it up out of my head," he says. "I'll be working from a drawing, but rarely, if ever, will I have it set up."

'It's relaxing'

Most of Zerwekh's time is spent at the KU's Edwards campus in Overland Park, where he heads up the engineering management master's degree program. He also keeps a small office on the main campus in Lawrence.

Between the paperwork involved in an administrative position and his time spent commuting, Zerwekh only finds about 10 hours a week to devote to his artistic avocation. It's then that he retreats to his basement studio.

"It's relaxing, although you may look at that kind of paintings and think, 'How could that be relaxing?'" he says. "It's a nice diversion from my usual university activities."

Zerwekh's work was featured in 1999 at the Lawrence Arts Center in a 60th birthday show. He also has a few pieces at Roy's Gallery, 1410 Kasold Drive. He believes a good painting should say something to the viewer. Often, what he tries to convey in his work is humor.

In his "Friends of Art," a notice from a juried art show notes two works rejected, one accepted. The two rejected are called "Happy Clown" and "Artist's Cat;" accepted is "Sex and Death."

"I like to put a little touch of humor in a lot of them," he says.

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1. Mark Thorson, ceramics
2. Mehrzad Alison, 2-D
3. Susan Sheets, jewelry
4. Dick Rector and Jim Slough, glass
5. Suzanne Perry, 3-D
6. Terry Maxwell, watercolor
7. Sunny Side Studio, 3-D
8. Robert Nothhouse, ceramics
9. Lauretta Hendricks-Backus, oil
10. Julie Hammer, watercolor
11. Tracy Townsley, ceramics
12. Kathleen Anderson, watercolor
13. Cleo McAlexander, 2-D
14. Carl Brothers, ceramics
15. Carolyn Young, photography
16. Kathryn Conrad, 2-D
17. Pat Ransone, watercolor
18. Wayne Terhune, wood
19. Theresa Logan, 3-D
20. Kelvin Schartz, 3-D
21. Evelyn Lupo, acrylic/ceramics
22. Paul Guatney, stoneware
23. Christine Shively, 3-D
24. Debe Riley, jewelry
25. Johanna Hanks, watercolor
26. Anita Stovall, 3-D
27. Janet Bacus, ceramics
28. Holly Stegall, jewelry
29. Nancy Reese, mixed media
30. Lynette Hayes, 2-D
31. Judy Thompson, ceramics
32. Clark Fulton, watercolor
33. Lori Hinrichsen, 2-D
34. Karla Nathan, 3-D
35. Constance Ehrlich and Shanna Wagner, 3-D
36. Jennifer Unekis, 3-D
37. Paul Penny, oil
38. Clemente Jerez and Martina Masaquiza, textiles
39. Lawrence Photo Alliance, photography
40. Barbara Solberg, 2-D
41. Davida Sears, textiles
42. Kathy Hird Wright, jewelry and photography
43. Mark Martinez, acrylic
44. Kay Celeste, pencil
45. C. Ann Burgess, fiber
46. Phyllis Meredith, 2-D
47. Donna Brigman, 2-D
48. Jim Rigg, watercolor
49. Edward Robison III, photography
50. Jane Fortun, oil
51. Celia Smith, acrylic
52. Robert Zerwekh, oil
53. Diane Lawrence, silk painting
54. Alan Brummell, ceramics
55. Victoria Gauerke, ceramics
56. Judhe Jensen, ceramics
57. Terry Miller, 3-D
58. Nancy Shaul, ceramics
59. Jean Terry, pastels
60. Richard Walker, ceramics
61. Vicki Vormehr, watercolor
62. Mark Jakubauskas, 3-D
63. J. Dale Taliaferro and Sara Taliaferro, 2-D
64. Crystal Nederman, photography
65. Francis Brenneman, pencil
66. Lyn Harp, 3-D
67. Stephanie Collins, 3-D
68. Shirley Akers, 2-D
69. Marcy Burns, textiles
70. Patty Boyer, 3-D
71. Peggy Shopen, pastels
72. Cindy Daniels, watercolor and pottery
73. Mitchell Pearson, 2-D
74. Ann Fendorf, ceramics
75. Brooks Hanson, 3-D
76. Michelle Babcock, jewelry
77. Orville Flager, 3-D, and Jo Flager, 2-D
78. James Martin, digital painting
79. Wayward Saints Glass Studio,jewelry
80. Jewell Willhite, acrylic
81. Sarah Wood-Clark, jewelry
82. Julie Kingsbury, jewelry
83. Gene Berryman, photography
84. Stephanie Munoz-O'Neil, 2-D
85. D.W. Gates, photography
86. Kathleen Seery, jewelry
87. Elisha Friedman, 2-D
88. Michelle McKinley, jewelry

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