LANESBORO -- Southern Minnesota’s longest-running fine art fair receives a COVID-friendly makeover this year. Art in the Park, an annual tradition in Lanesboro, will be conducted mostly online -- although if you’re up for the drive, there will still be art to see.

Instead of filling Sylvan Park with booths and food vendors, organizers have re-envisioned the event as a virtual and social-distancing-friendly celebration of the arts.

Sylvan Park from Art in the Park 2019 (contributed photo, Treedome)
Sylvan Park from Art in the Park 2019 (contributed photo, Treedome)

The event is taking place in three parts: drive-in art viewings in Sylvan Park (202 Parkway Ave S, Lanesboro) featuring large-scale printed images of artists’ work, podcast episodes available at lanesboroarts.org, and a social media campaign featuring artists’ work.

All of it begins June 20, and continues through June 30.

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Jacob Jensen, potter (contributed photo)
Jacob Jensen, potter (contributed photo)

Jacob Jensen, an Owatonna potter, is excited to take part in the new event after displaying his work at last year’s Art in the Park.

However, he’s not sure virtual art fairs will entirely meet artists’ needs.

Many professional potters and artists experience “art fair season,” a period in the spring and summer when they exhibit and sell work regularly, Jensen said.

Jensen, in his second taking part in art fairs, is still working hard to inform the general public about his work. At any given Art in the Park, around 1,000 people walk through the fest -- and even if they don’t buy his work, they may take cards or remember him later on.

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“I’m missing some of that opportunity to get the word out there, talk to people, and share what I’ve been doing,” he said. “It’s been a bummer.”

Furthermore, he doesn’t think limited displays will result in sales.

“When people purchase my work, then I have that mental and physical space to create more work,” he said. “It gets new things coming down the pipe. This year, I’m going to be holding onto a lot of work over the summer season.

“My expectations are more along the lines of exposure than sales,” he added. “It’s fine, but it doesn’t pay, and it doesn’t move pots.”

Pottery by Jacob Jensen (contributed photo)
Pottery by Jacob Jensen (contributed photo)

Jensen will miss the interaction with visitors, he said. He participated in the Art in the Park podcasts, but will miss the “deep conversation.”

“I hope people will feel comfortable reaching out with messages about work,” he said. “That interaction is what drives creativity and keeps us creating.”

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It’s been tough for artists to adapt to the new, festival-less reality, he said. Jensen admires artists who have spent time creating online shops and throwing themselves into virtual sales -- he spent a past weekend shopping from fellow potters as a way to show his support.

“It’s easy to buy art from people you know and care about, and want to support,” he said.

Still, Jensen is hopeful for the future, after this unusual art fair season is past.

“This next summer, I think people will remember the value of that in-person art festival -- that community, gathering around creative people, and just kind of celebrating life and beauty,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a rebound -- I think if any art fairs had lower attendance last year, people will come out in droves after one summer with no art fairs.”

Find Jacob Jensen’s work at jensenpottery on Facebook and Instagram.

If You Go

What: Art in the Park

When: June 20-30

Where: Drive-in viewing at 202 Parkway Ave. S, Lanesboro. Podcast episodes available at lanesboroarts.org.

Cost: Free