By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Jeffrey Bruce has been spending plenty of time in his studio. The Quincy artist is getting ready for the Midsummer's Arts Faire, which kicks off Friday.
"I'm trying to finish up as many pieces as possible," he said. "I'm expanding my booth a little bit, so I've got to expand the display a little bit."
This is Bruce's second year at the fair. Last year, he won an award of excellence in his first appearance.
He's taking the same approach to the fair as last year.
"I'm going to go hang out in the park for the weekend, see a bunch of people and we'll go from there," Bruce said."I've gotten to meet a lot more people that way really quickly."
The mixed media artist tries to use as many different items as possible to connect with people who visit his booth.
"Some people respond to antiques, some people respond to text, and some people, it's a photograph," Bruce said Friday in his studio.
He shows a small piece he made from a turntable cartridge box in the 1970s and a hardware store knob. Sitting next to it is "Flying Along," which may look like a small wooden car, which he made with wooden salad bowls. His work comes in many sizes, including refrigerator magnets.
"Some bits of the past are just interesting shapes, whether it's a vacuum cleaner cover or an old wooden plank," he said. "It comes with a particular feeling, and I might try to use that with a photo that relates to it in some fashion."
Bruce also incorporates text into his pieces with a simple message when one of the small boxes is opened.
"I guess I'd love to be a writer, but I don't have the patience for it," he joked.
Bruce originally focused on photography while in college.
"It wasn't quite interesting enough hanging on the gallery wall," he said. "It wasn't quite the experience I was looking for, and the school I came from encouraged cross-media usage."
Bruce started using items in his house, which has been in his family for three generations. He also finds material at garage sales and flea markets.
"Sometimes an idea comes together quickly, and other times I'll have an object sit around forever, just waiting for something to happen," he said.
The 10th annual celebration of the arts starts with Blues in the District. The Soulard Blues Band will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Washington Park.
Kelli Langston, president of the Midsummer Arts Faire, said visitors will see more artists this year.
"Instead of our normal 50, this year we're going up to 58 artists," she said. "We feel like the community can support it, and all the artists can still be successful."
The fair has continued to grow.
"It just seems that the crowd gets bigger and bigger, especially Friday night," Langston said. "You can just tell the area that is available for free space shrinks every year, and every year I keep thinking we're going to have to go out in the street next year."
There will be free hands-on activities for visitors. In addition to pottery and chalk art, visitors will also be able to screen print on tote bags to bring home.
Children will be able to develop their taste in art at the Young Collectors Gallery. Art in the gallery is priced at $10 or less.
"We have specially trained volunteers who walk around with them, and if the child points to something that they like, the adult tries to guide them on why they like it," Langston said.
While Blues in the District brings touring artists, the Midsummer Arts Faire will promote local performers Saturday and Sunday.
"Instead of bringing in a bunch of acts from all over, we chose to keep it regional and local," Langston said. "We like the idea of introducing our local talent to new audiences and giving them a chance to play for a big crowd."
A beer and wine tent is also being added, which was a request from attendee surveys.
For more information on the events and artists at the Midsummer Arts Faire, visit artsfaire.org.
2013 Midsummer Arts Faire
Friday: 5 to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More information at artsfaire.org.