Arts and Ales draws small crowd to Abilene | News

A handful of artists drew a small crowd to the Arts Council of Dickinson County’s Arts and Ales event Saturday afternoon. Attendees experienced live music, craft beer, food and local art.

Travis Marak was among the artists taking part. He had several paintings and prints on hand. It was Marak’s first time taking part in an art show, he said.

He has been doing art his entire life, but started painting about two years ago as a form of therapy.

“I was going through some stuff back when I lived in Montana and just picked up a brush and started going. I moved here about a year ago and just haven’t stopped,” he said. “I kind of have to keep doing it now — I got sucked in.”

Marak said he is inspired by whatever is going on in his life at the time.

“If I fee bad, I go paint,” he said. “If I feel good, I go paint. And I never really know what’s going to come out of it. Sometimes they’re really depressing. Sometimes they’re really colorful and happy. It’s just kind of something I need to do, I guess.”

Marak has experimented with several types of painting, including a brushless type where he just drips paint on canvas and tips it to make the paint go where he wants.

“Sometimes they come out great, sometimes it just turns into a blob of black and whatever,” he said. “Everything I do, I try to do it different than everyone else.”

He uses alcohol water to add bubbling effects to his paintings.

Marak spends on average about 10 hours on a single paining.

“I work fast but then I let it dry,” he said. “I go in to do little touches and I keep putting in little details over and over. Something like that might take six hours, but it might be spread out over a couple months.”

He brought a wide variety of paintings to the event Saturday afternoon, including full-on paintings on canvas, less expensive prints and smaller items such as coffee mugs and stickers with his art on them.

He hoped to use Saturday’s event to gain attention for his art. He recently set up his website at and said that — if nothing else — he wanted to hand out some business cards and get his name out there through the event.

Artist Jill Richardson also had a booth at the event.

She’s been doing art “forever” but started using alcohol ink to create abstract, ethereal paintings a few months ago.

“I like how loose it is and all the different colors and how you can break the colors down and how they mix and match and react with each other,” she said. “It’s just really kind of ethereal.”

Richardson said she just picked a set of colors and let the paint do its thing and sometimes surprises herself when she’s done.

“It kind of has a mind of its own,” Richardson said. “It just comes to life as it goes. I liken it to going downhill 90 miles an hour in a car with no brakes. It has its own mind. I can control it somewhat but it’s most a free thing — it just evolves.”

She chose to take part in Arts and Ales through her connection with arts council Director Sam Geissenger, who invited her to take part.

Geissenger, for her part, hoped to get the event off the ground.

“We’re getting people moving in — they’re strolling in,” she said. “We’re hoping to see a nice crowd come and support (local artists).”

Joe Morrison helped organize the craft beer side of the event.

Many (though not all) of the beers on tap Saturday were Kansas beers.

“I like doing local beers because it’s Kansas — you know, we’re all proud of Kansas and whatnot,” Morrison said. “It’s just a phone call away to call them and be like, ‘you want to come be part of the community in Abilene and come sample your beers, talk about them?’ It’s easier getting these guys in versus like a Colorado beer or a Florida beer — these guys come, they represent, they know the town.”

He said he was especially glad to be able to take part in such an event in an agricultural community such as Abilene because so many of the local brands buy their ingredients locally.

“All these guys buy hops and grains and stuff in the immediate area,” Morrison said.


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