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Artist's chicken footstools make festival debut

By Michael Strand

The Salina Journal

Chicken fingers are a food one might find at the Smoky Hill River Festival; chicken footstools, meanwhile, could be found over in the fine arts area. A creation of Sally Linville, of Lyons, and her family, the footstools garnered significant attention over the weekend.

Linville demonstrated the functional works of art by keeping her feet propped up, and explained their inner workings. "The feet and beak are cast bronze, from a foundry in Lawrence," she said, further explaining that under the layers of wool felt is a wooden ball, attached to the head by a heavy spring.

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Each is unique, and has a name -- many are named after family members, Linville said. This was Linville's first time at the festival, and she said she was impressed by the attendance and the weather.

"Karla saw these in a gallery in Manhattan a few years ago, and kept wanting us to come," Linville said, referring to Karla Prickett, the festival's visual arts coordinator.

"We've never been able to come before now," Linville said, adding the chicken footstools seem to be popular.

"We've adopted several out to good homes." Linville said she came up with the idea while attending Kansas State University, and taking a furniture studio class.

"I thought of this, and made one, and people who saw it kept saying I should make more and sell them -- so we did," she said.

Spray paint artist Across the park, Brady Hemmer and his friends Kolten Walker and Owen Gleason were mesmerized watching the artist known as Gear work his magic with spray paint.

"It looks easy, but I bet it's harder that it looks," Walker said.

In response to questions from the three boys, Gear explained that he uses different spray tips -- some to cover a wide area, and others for detail work.

"Like different brushes?" Walker asked.

"Yeah, it's like having an assortment of brushes," Gear replied.

At one point, Gear was spraying bright blue next to an area he'd already covered in red, and Hemmer asked why there wasn't a purple line where the paints mixed.

"It's an opaque paint -- it's really thick and just covers the other color," Gear said. "If it was thinner, you might get purple."

"Or, you could hold two cans, and cross the streams," he added, demonstrating how that's done.

The boys were especially interested when Gear took a can he'd been spraying from, set it on the ground and stomped on it, partially collapsing it.

"Why did you do that?" one asked.

"It smashes the air in the can, and you can get a little more paint out of it that way," Gear said.

Attendance up Brad Anderson, executive director of Salina Arts and Humanities, said the total number of people entering the festival over its four-day run was 62,860, up from 62,308 in 2013.

Interaction between the festival-goers and the artists is one of the things Anderson enjoys each year, and one he found fun this year was the "Newpenny stand" along the food row -- that metallic display with a robot inside and no clear purpose.

"Kids would look at it, and as they investigated, they found the slot with the penny made by the artist," Anderson said. "Some were very polite, and when finding the money, didn't want to take it -- and then the artist would come by and tell them it was OK to take one."

Artists also were interacting with children at the reflective mylar wall on the handball court, where they were given the chance to draw their reflections. The four sheets of mylar soon will be displayed in store windows downtown, Anderson said.

The only rain during the festival weekend was overnight Saturday, though Anderson said high winds during the day Saturday meant some extra work for staff and volunteers, who went around and re-staked all of the tents.

"We had a crew that spent four hours Sunday mulching so we'd be ready to open," after the night's rain, he said. "And we also had people on-call throughout the day, to fill in as mulch got walked over and mashed down."

(c)2014 The Salina Journal