Posts in Category: Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair

Garden of the Soul
©2010 Melynda Van Zee
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Canvas

So excited to find out that both of my entries into the Iowa State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit were accepted. Both “Garden of the Soul” and “From Above the Wind and Waves” will be available for your viewing at the Fine Art Exhibit at the Cultural Center on any day of the great Iowa State Fair to be held August 11-21 in Des Moines, IA.

To be honest, there is a part of me that can’t believe I just wrote that opening paragraph. You see I’ve been going to the Iowa State Fair for as long as I can remember. Throughout my entire childhood, my dad had a booth in the agricultural division of the fair, so we would spend long days wondering through all the fair attractions while he worked. At night, if he wasn’t too tired, he would take me for one ride on the double ferris wheel-equally terrifying as it was electrifying-spinning wildly and flying over the fair grounds seeing for miles. As a teenager, I would occasionally get to invite a friend along to spend the day with me at the fair. Vivid memories of our bodies covered in stickers advertising political candidates, looking for treasures in the Shopping Mart, posing for photos in the Victorian dress up booth, meeting on-air TV personalities in person to capture their signatures-all a part of an Iowa girl’s annual trek to the fair.

I have continued the tradition of visiting the fair as an adult, bringing my own children to make their fair memories (riding a horse for the first time, flying down the Big Slide on a burlap mat, admiring the big bull, riding a boat in the pitch black at Ye Old Mill) and I never miss a trip to the Cultural Center to take it all in. In my years of teaching art to kids, I would love to check out all the kid’s art works that were displayed-looking at the talent and cruising for ideas I could use in my own classroom. I created my own dollhouses as a girl so I don’t miss a chance to see the amazingly detailed doll houses that are displayed. Several year ago on a whim, I decided to try to enter some of my photography to the photography exhibit at the fair. To my great surprise, some of my photos were selected. I’ve entered several more times over the years, always delighted to walk the aisles and see when my work showed up.

But, the fine art exhibit…that was the “someday”, the never gonna realistically happen “someday” part of the fair that tempted me-dangled out there in front of me as a “What if?”

“What if I actually started seriously painting my own paintings rather than dreaming about it?”

“What if I actually started to do what I had been so busy teaching for so many years?”

“What if I got brave enough to enter?”

“What if I get rejected?”

I did get rejected the first time I entered a painting a couple of years ago. But, I tried again. So in this fortieth year of life, I can say that there are still “What ifs?” that God is placing and answering in my life. There are still things that I have to learn and there are still surprises waiting around the corners of my life. Sometimes I get frustrated about living in what other people call “fly-over country”. I lament the lack of opportunities that are available in more rural areas. I can get restless with right where I am. But, I am resolved to continue to make the decision to take a long walk with my camera to capture the beauty and depth of my home and pick up the brush to paint what I have to say. And, I am delighted to make another trip to the Iowa State Fair to revel in all that makes this place I live, this Iowa, a continual field of yet-to-be discovered treasures, good old-fashioned fun and dreams for the future.

From Above the Wind & Waves
©2010 Melynda Van Zee
36″ x 24″
Acrylic on Canvas