Fair Showcases Artists, Remembers Legacy

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TOPEKA, Kan. - A celebration Saturday remembered the great work of a native Topekan's contribution to the art world.

Aaron Douglas is remembered as one of the most important visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance, and is known as the "father of black american art."

In 2005, a mural of one of Douglas' works was produced in the park at 12th & Lane. It is now called the Aaron Douglas Art Park. The Central Topeka TurnAround Team then decided to do something more to remember Douglas' legacy.

They created the Aaron Douglas Art Fair, featuring works from regional artists.

Karen Hiller, Chairwoman of the fair, said it also brings the community together. "The art fair is a way to celebrate community, to celebrate diverse and emerging artists and bring together people from all over the community."

This year's featured artist was Topeka High School and Kansas State University graduate, Eddie Saldanha.

Hiller said the staff fell in love with Saldanha's work at the 2007 fair. "We chose it for our feature, then later learned that Eddie is from Topeka. He's a 2002 graduate of Topeka High, has been out of the community, married, brought his wife and family back to Topeka to live. He understands what a wonderful thing this is."

Saldanha said he's happy to be back. "It was really cool for them to invite me back and I'm very flattered and very humbled by it."

Dozens of artists set up booths at the fair. Topeka High chose student entries to collectively share a booth. They won the people's choice award for favorite work.

Many local bands played to entertain fair-goers, and food vendors set up to raise money for their communities.