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Meridian Meets Its Artistic Community

Fine art items that are presented, handcrafted and handmade by the artists

Treasure Valley residents will find an exciting new opportunity to support local businesses, engage in the community, and make a few friends to boot. What kind of event could pull off such an unfathomable feat? Meet the first-ever Meridian Fine Art Festival, to be held at Kleiner Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 29th and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the following day.

Common pieces of art that artists will show at the event include paintings, jewelry, handmade furniture, stained glass, and select special foods like jams and spices.

The juried fest will focus almost solely on artists who live in Meridian, with the goal of cultivating community in one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. The Meridian Fine Art Festival will aim to provide an outdoor space for 125 artists and craftsmen — almost all of them residents of Meridian — to show neighbors their wares.

With any luck, the art extravaganza will be a win-win for the city and its artist residents, many of whom struggle to find exposure for their artwork. Adding to the Meridian Fine Art Festival’s charm, the two individuals who concocted the idea and spent years bringing it to fruition are a mother and a daughter, each of them a distinguished artist in their own right.

“The Meridian Fine Art Festival is long overdue,” Lauren T. Kistner told Meridian Lifestyle in mid-May, noting the city’s staggering growth.

“All the items that are presented must be handcrafted and handmade by the artists,” Sherri said, proudly adding that neither she nor her daughter refused to loosen their standards. Doing so might have accelerated the process of planning the large festival but would have betrayed their personal values.

Likewise, Lauren and Sherri bucked the notion of commercializing the Meridian Fine Art Festival by not allowing merchandise to be sold.

If the name “Sherri Kistner” sounds familiar, it’s probably because she spent more than three decades promoting and coordinating a similar fine art festival in McCall: the Payette Lakes Fine Art & Craft Fair. After all that time, Sherri and Lauren decided to combine their talents and enthusiasm to create their own festival.

The Meridian Fine Arts Festival will be “The same idea [as the McCall one,] but on a bigger scale with a beautiful venue for kids,” Sherri noted.

Given that she and her daughter are artists themselves, the mother and daughter team prioritized their peers above all else for the Meridian Fine Art Festival.

“We don’t want to compete with Kmart,” Sherri said with a laugh, adding that she and Lauren incepted the idea of the Meridian Fine Art Festival in August of last year. “We’re much more interested in making sure everyone’s happy.”

Moreover, the Meridian Fine Art Festival will offer hands-on experiences for its attendees. In other words, don’t expect this festival to be your typical “art fair.” Sherri and Lauren want Meridian residents to connect and even build friendships with artists in their city.

To that end, the festival will provide attendees the ability to talk with the participating artists so they can have their pieces of jewelry or other handcrafted items customized with the colors and styles of the patrons’ choosing.

“Fine art is accessible if you know how to do it,” Sherri noted.

For any parents who might be wary about bringing their kids to a fine art festival, Lauren and Sherri insisted that the Meridian Fine Art Festival will be family-friendly. Kids can wear themselves out at the splash pad at Kleiner, for one; for another, the event will feature live entertainment and food trucks. MeridianFineArtFestival.com

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ARTIST TESTIMONIES 

“Meridian has always been a great supporter of my artwork. Being the resident artist for the Meridian Arts Foundation, showcasing at the Initial Point Gallery, and receiving grants from the community for my artwork, I feel like Meridian is the place where my art will thrive the most. I’m thrilled to be joining the Meridian Fine Art Festival this year! It's the perfect opportunity to share my work with the community." - Suzanne deSoleil

"The Meridian Fine Art Festival is an opportunity for Idaho artisans, like myself, to share their creative work with the Treasure Valley community. This will be a well-curated event with a wide variety of artisans who take a lot of pride in the quality of their work." - Brenda Pettinger of BP Pottery

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