During the summer season, artists crisscross Ohio showing their work at festivals. One of the first major shows took place in Cincinnati this weekend: the 56th annual Summerfair.

“These are the cream of the crop artists,” said managing director Jayne Utter.  She and her team bring in some new artists every year, like Emma Overman from Indianapolis.

“I’m really happy to be a part of it,” Overman said.

What You Need To Know

  • Summerfair had its 56th year of featuring arts and crafts

  • More than 340 artists were featured this year from all over the country

  • Proceeds from ticket sales and festival merchandise funds arts programs

  • Summerfair has donated more than $2.2 million since it began

​Earlier in her career, she worked as a children’s book illustrator, and her work features quite a few animals, especially cats.

“Yet, I’ve never had a cat in my life and I am a dog person," she said. “I found that cat people like cat stuff more than dog people do.”

She also features owls, a nod to her father who inspired her and everything from alligators to horses. Each work creates a world to explore.

“I always tell people, every painting is like going on a little trip,” Overman said. 

She goes on her own trip when she’s done painting, searching for the perfect old frame for her new works. Though she lives in Indiana, she spends quite a bit of time antiquing in Ohio.

“I love finding an old frame that creates a bit of nostalgia for my pieces,” she said. “The imagery seems like a memory that sometimes people say, ‘That reminds me of something from my childhood and that makes me happy,’” she said. 

Artist Brian McKelvey makes people smile with his works that are a big hit here in Ohio: the pubs of Columbus or Cincinnati, just to name two.

“Cincinnati is special because we have friends here and People love their pubs here,” McKelvey said.

He started out creating city scapes and he noticed people always gravitated toward the taverns he featured so that inspired him to try something,

“As a joke, I decided to put all the pubs together in a scene and of course, my dad was a pastor and my mom was like, ‘Do you have to put the bars in the scene?’  and I was like, ‘That’s what everybody wants,’and it literally just took off at that point.”

So far, he’s painted 140 pub pictures of towns across the country and launched a website.  

Brian’s from Michigan, but he loves coming here to Ohio every year.

“Summerfair’s the friendliest show that we do,” he said.  “It kicks off the summer shows, and it’s my favorite show actually.”

Summerfair continues Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proceeds from admission and fair merchandise help to fund arts programs throughout Greater Cincinnati.

“We typically fund $80,000 of art and education programs a year,” Utter said. “And since we started 56 years ago, we’ve donated more than $2.2 million.”