From the Sunday Morning Times-Free Press…

Who-Fest at Renaissance Park celebrates folk art

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A celebration of the self-taught artist, Who-Fest, covers Renaissance Park with art and music this weekend.

“It’s really soulful art,” said Hailey Moses, a 20-year-old Guilford College (N.C.) student who bought paintings on Saturday while visiting with her mother, psychologist Carol Lewis, 48, of Gainesville, Fla.

Nearly 60 artists appear at the festival.

Musical performers include Roger Alan Wade, Kofi Mawuko’s Ghanaian Band and Land Camera.

Who-Fest supports “outside and visionary art,” said festival organizer David Smotherman, owner of Winder Binder Gallery of Folk Art on Frazier Avenue.

Who Ha Da Da Artist Collective and Chattanooga’s Shaking Ray Levi Society co-sponsored the event.

The folk artists at Who-Fest are typically not formally trained, said Beth Gumnick, a folk painter and teacher at Chattanooga’s Baylor School.

“We create for many reasons — it’s a passion, or a form of therapy — and we learn as we go,” she said.

Who-Fest offers a rare chance for local folk artists to show and sell their work, said Mort Overton, a copper sculptor from Dalton, Ga.

“This is my first art festival. It’s a step up for me,” he said.

Mr. Smotherman said the group’s organizers produced a quality event on a limited budget of $7,500.

His mission, he added, is to expose Chattanoogans to rarely seen local and regional folk artists.

“This is a niche that gets lost some times,” Mr. Smotherman said. “There are so many good folk artists in this area, there just has to be something like this.”

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