Thursday, June 10, 2010

Front page, today's Salina Journal - the new Smoky Hill River Festival collaboration

Bill Godfrey assembles his fabric panels on the Fourth Street bridge on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 in Oakdale Park in preparation for the Smoky Hill River Festival. (photo by Jeff Cooper/Salina Journal)

Joe Clark (left) and Erika Nelson work on an art installation at the tennis courts in Oakdale Park on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 in preparation for the Smoky Hill River Festival. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)

Artist Blind Date - original story

When two people are set up by a mutual acquaintance for a blind date, the results are difficult to predict, but at this year's Smoky Hill River Festival it will be hard to miss the bright results at the Oakdale Park tennis courts.

"I See You, You See Me," a mural of Put-in-Cups and cloth, shows the results of the artist blind date of Erika Nelson, of Lucas, and Bill Godfrey, from near Pittsburgh, Pa.

The two found themselves paired together to design a mural ahead of the four-day Smoky Hill River Festival, set to kick off tonight with the Festival Jam in Oakdale Park.

"We connected well," Godfrey said. "Our works meshed together really well."

Godfrey and Nelson met for the first time Tuesday to start their project after being "set up" by Karla Prickett, a festival organizer, and talking online about the project for two months.

"It was like creating an Internet relationship with someone you don't know," Godfrey said. "You find out a lot about the person, but you never physically meet them until the end. You don't know if you are going to be able to work together or not."

Inspired by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the artists set out to design a project meshing two very different art materials.


"She (Erika) wanted to base our piece on his (Hundertwasser's) work," Godfrey said. "I went on the Internet and researched this artist's work and found he was one of the most important artists in Germany in the 20th century."

Nelson said Hundertwasser's designs are childlike and have many curves, something she felt would be a hit at the festival.

"We are focusing on the eyes and bright colors of his designs," Nelson said. "The top tier will be major vignettes tied together with little designs."

Godfrey said his part of the project was finished ahead of time, but Nelson started putting the Put-in-Cups into the fence Tuesday. The project is expected to be finished today. Nelson said she planned only a portion of her project in advance.

It really blends well

"I'm responding to Bill's pieces and going little by little until it feels right," Nelson said.

With the banners made of cloth and the Put-in-Cups, Godfrey said he was surprised how well the materials blended together.

"If you put the fabric and the plastic on the chain-link fence and step back, you can't tell where one ends and the other begins," Godfrey said. "By accident, the cups and cloth are the same color sources."

Nelson said the mural almost looks as if it were designed by one artist instead of two.

Godfrey has been helping Nelson put the cups into the fence following her designs.

"It is like a creative arena," Godfrey said. "You bring a lot of things and media together, and it happens."

Nelson said the mural will be taken down Sunday.

"She envisioned us working together in a nice fashion, and we have," Godfrey said. "This art blind date has worked."

Reporter Chris Hunter can be reached at 822-1422 or by e-mail at

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