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Local artists return to Queeny Park for 36th annual Labor Day art fair

By: Sheila Frayne Rhoades


Photographer Jim Gray

Photographer Jim Gray

If you love art, Labor Day Weekend means one thing – it’s time again for the Art Fair at Queeny Park.

Now in its 36th year, the event showcases original works of fine art and fine craft with 140 juried artists from over 20 states will participating. Among them are Ballwin resident and fine art photographer James (Jim) Gray  and painter Maggie McCarthy, of St. Charles.

Gray has been involved in photography most of his life – beginning in high school with an old Kodak camera.

“I converted my closet into a darkroom and bought an early single-lens reflex camera,” Gray said.

In 1958 he got serious – taking photographs while stationed in Japan with the Air Force and, after his discharge, spending three months traveling the world taking pictures.

Later, Gray and his wife served as missionaries in South Africa and Taiwan.

“These places renewed my interest in nature and wildlife photography,” he said.

Great places can make for good photographs, but getting truly great ones takes something more.  “Most often it’s going where you know there might be good photo opportunities – going on field trips, going back many times to a place until you get the right light and atmosphere you want to capture, and then always being patient,” Gray explained.

His special interest is floral photography.

“Flowers are so ephemeral, and photography allows me to preserve their beauty. I want to have my photographic image give an artistic expression and feeling to the subject being presented,” he said. “I hope my work will help in searching for beauty and creative inspiration in this wondrous world.”

Gray is a member of the Missouri Nature and Environmental Photographers Association in St. Louis. He also is a juried member of the Greater St. Louis Art Association, and a member of the Art World Association of St. Louis. His work can be viewed online at graygranitegallery.com.

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McCarthy always loved to draw and paint. In 1982 she began studying art with community classes and private lessons. In 1995 she received her fine arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. She also holds a bachelor of arts degree in English education from UMSL.

Landscapes – either real or imagined – are her inspiration, and while she uses other mediums, such as oil and pencil, her favorite is watercolor.

“I love the outdoors, the change of seasons and walking, so I’m never at a loss for subject matter,” McCarthy said. “Missouri is a beautiful state, with all the rivers, creeks and streams. I have water in many of my paintings.

“I’m inspired by atmosphere. Fog, vistas, snow, water and big expanses give me a chance to create both mystery and drama. I especially love the high contrast that happens in snow and winter scenes.”

But it is not just nature’s beauty that McCarthy hopes to capture when she begins to paint.

“I want to paint more than a scene. I want to capture a feeling and an emotional response,” McCarthy explained. “I want people to find my work emotional and soothing without being sentimental.”

McCarthy is a signature member of the St. Louis Watercolor Society and both a juried member and board member of the Greater St. Louis Art Association. She has won numerous awards in juried shows and competitions from the Midwest to Maryland, including the Art Fair at Queeny Park where she has appeared for seven years and serves on the show committee.

She also is a sought-after workshop and class instructor. More of her work can be viewed online at maggiemccarthy.com.

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The Art Fair at Queeny Park opens on Friday, Aug. 29 with hours from 6-9 p.m., continues on Saturday, Aug. 30 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and concludes on Sunday, Aug. 31, with hours from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

On display and for sale will be ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, digital art, mixed media and fiber art, jewelry, sculpture, wood and more. Rounding out the experience is wine tasting, live music, a food café, art activities for children and adults throughout the run of the show, and drawings for “art dollars” that can be spent at any booth.

Details of the weekend’s activities can be found online at artfairatqueenypark.com. Admission is $5 per person and supports the GSLAA Art Scholarship Fund.

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