For the first time since 1974, families in Lakeland won’t be celebrating Mother’s Day weekend by strolling through Mayfaire by-the-Lake. The 2020 edition of the Lake Morton outdoor art festival was postponed a full year to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But even before its scheduled return on May 8 and 9 next year, a GeoCubist swan painted by an Atlanta-area animal artist will represent the show. Mayfaire 2020 posters featuring the colorful swan are being printed now and will be available in the museum shop, a spokeswoman said.
Barbara Rush was taken by surprise while exhibiting at her first Mayfaire by-the-lake last May when a team from the Polk Museum of Art walked to her booth and asked her to craft the featured image for the 2020 Mayfaire.
“I was totally excited and happy,” Rush said.
Each year on the last day of Mayfaire, the museum’s artistic staff tour artists’ booths to determine who is best suited to represent the annual outdoor art show, said Alex Rich, executive director of the Polk Museum of Art.
With the knowledge about the kind of work Rush produced— her color choices and the graphic qualities she employs— the team also had to consider an artist who would provide an image that was “different enough” from the previous year.
“We narrowed down our final picks to a few and then decided on Barbara, approaching her on the spot that afternoon,” Rich said. “She seemed very surprised and grateful for the honor and opportunity, and we were excited she was eager to contribute for 2020.”
Rush’s specialty is painting animals, and after hearing all weekend from customers about the Lakeland swans, Rush knew immediately what she would paint to represent the Mayfaire: a swan in her signature GeoCubist style.
The first thing she did after returning to her home in Roswell, Ga., was brushing up on swans.
“I immediately began researching the swans of Lakeland, how they came to be and what varieties and colors of swans were in the lake,” she said. “Every painting I create begins with research, especially one as high profile as the official image for Mayfaire 2020.”
While she was in Lakeland for the show, Rush had taken some photos of the swans on the lake, which she used for her renderings in pencil, which she sent off to the museum for approval.
For more information on Rush and her art, visit barbararush.com.
After the museum selected one of her swan drawings, Rush tweaked the shapes until she was satisfied with the way they interlocked and interacted, she said. From there, she progressed with “Infused with Grace,” her swan portrait, using a color palette of black, grey and white on a teal and blue/green background.
Each year, the team at Polk Museum of Art tries shoots for an image that represents the fun and family-oriented nature of Mayfaire, along with its location on Lake Morton. The image is used on posters, T-shirts and other promotions.
“Barbara’s work, with its fragmentation of color and forms, spoke to all of those desires,” Rich said. “It was colorful and lively, animal-filled, like the banks of the lake, and evocative of modern art in its own unique way.”
Rush has a degree in fine art and experience in a corporate design environment.
This year’s Mayfaire by-the-Lake, sponsored by Citizens Bank & Trust, has been postponed until next year. The scheduled dates and time are May 8-9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the shores of Lake Morton. The festival is free and open to the public.