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Annual Folk Fest returns to Norcross center

NORCROSS -- Nearly 100 artists, dealers and galleries will be present at the 18th Annual Folk Fest at the North Atlanta Trade Center to showcase handcrafted American Art today through Sunday.

"People are really interested in Southern folk art," Steve Slotin, founder of Folk Fest said. "Especially the art from the African-American community."

Visitors and artists from all over the state -- and the country -- gather to celebrate the unique creations displayed by the folk community.

"The festival has given me a new outlook to my art," painter Sandy Brown of Thomasville said. "I was getting down on the idea that I did folk art because some people would say it wasn't folky enough and contemporary artists said it was too folk-like. People appreciate my work here."

IF YOU GO

What: Folk Fest

When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: North Atlanta Trade Center, 1700 Jeurgens Court, Norcross

For more information: visit www.slotinfolkart...>

Not every artist at the show would traditionally be defined as "folk," but they have a certain playful rawness when creating each piece of work to include them as part of the celebration. One example is Andrei Palmer of Stone Mountain, who builds model cars out of materials around the house. He uses construction paper, pencils, aluminum foil and glue to craft relics of realistic automobiles.

"Last year, I set everything up and a lot of people came over to my area looking at my beautiful cars." said Palmer about his first year at the exhibition. "I usually sell them for $20 to $30, but one guy offered me more than $100 for one. It was exciting."

Artists from across the country sign up to attend the festival. Gus Fink of Saint Claire, Pa. has been presenting his drawings and sketches in Georgia for the past five years.

"It's always a great show and has a good vibe," Fink said. "Atlanta has always been nice to me. It seems like the people in this area appreciate art more -- they don't want just the boring gallery art work."

Collectors keep an eye out for art from those who have passed away.

"The most popular artists are ones who were trained with little to no education, but most passed away," Slotin said. "There is an urgency to collect the stuff and learn about it."

Other popular pieces are the Southern pottery and jugs made from hand. When canning and jarring food became the norm, pottery was rendered obsolete. These pieces are especially of interest to collectors, because they are very rare to find.

"This art has no influence with the European influence because the original artists didn't have education," Slotin said. "They had to drop out of school to help with the housework. Their art is either religiously inspired or painted memories from childhood."

He added, "Folk art will be known as the greatest American art movement in the future."

Today's admission is $15, which includes a T-shirt and re-admission. Saturday and Sunday cost $7. Children 16 years old and younger are free. Folk Fest ends Sunday evening at 5 p.m.