• Carlie Mertz

Square Deal: The Art Fair Returns

By Carlie Mertz After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the 66th annual Deer Path Art League’s Art Fair on the Square will be back Sept. 5-6. The fair always attracts large crowds to Market Square, showcasing nearly 200 artists in recent years.


“It’s a great outing for families looking to get outdoors and walk through historic Market Square,” said Cecilia Lanyon, executive director of the Deer Path Art League.

The Art Fair on the Square draws thousands of customers to the heart of Lake Forest.


This year the fair will be half its normal size, taking up the same footprint as usual but leaving room for the tents and artist spaces to be at least 10 feet apart to abide with social-distancing guidelines. The event will host artists and patrons from all over the world and display 14 categories of artwork, such as ceramics, jewelry, painting and photography.


A challenge the Art League faced while resurrecting the event involved how to proceed with interactive art experiences. Traditionally, the event features a few sections where kids can submit their work to be displayed in young artist booths. Because of Covid-spacing restrictions, the Art League has placed this on hold until 2022.


The artists showcase their latest work and sell directly to customers. This makes for a unique buying experience because all of the artists are required to be in their booths so that visitors can see the face behind the artwork.


“Visitors have the opportunity to meet and mingle with artists from all around, eat some good food and enjoy some live music,” said Lanyon.


The Deer Path Art League (deerpathartleague.com) was established in 1954, making it the oldest non-profit art organization in Lake Forest.


“Our overall mission is to spark, nurture and enhance creativity and raise awareness and appreciation for arts in the community,” said Lanyon.


The Art Fair on the Square was started by a handful of artists that were passionate about the arts and wanted to showcase their work in a group exhibit. The fair started off highlighting local artists, but over time has developed into a juried show where people from all over the world can apply for their work to be showcased. A panel of jurors then review the applicant's artwork and select certain artists to be included in the fair.


“It is a very prestigious show in that we have a very sophisticated and professional group of artists that we show,” Lanyon noted. Artist Leslie Lentz, who has presented at the Art Fair in the past and whose work is showcased at Art Pop, is excited the event is returning.


“I love coming back to display my art at the fair because it feels like going to see family and friends at a big family reunion or an end-of-summer party,” said Lentz.


Applications will reopen for next year this December online through Zapplication.