There’s two particular events I look forward to photographing every year that unfortunately fall on the same Saturday: Autumn on the Prairie at the Nachusa Grasslands and Paint the Town in Morrison. Both offer countless opportunities for photos. But they each hit you in a different way.
The Nachusa open house is a peaceful step into the seas of swaying grasses that early settlers traveled through as they looked for a spot to set up their homesteads.
The colors shift from vibrant to muted – all depending on your focus. A Brown-Eyed Susan, with its deep yellow petals, pops out from the warm greens and golds of the prairie land. Then they just as easily sink away into the landscape of rolling hills, shrubs and stems.
Nature is star of the show here: a warming sun, a cooling breeze and visitors taking steps a little slower to take it all in.
Where Autumn on the Prairie is serene and quiet, Paint the Town is spirited and expressive.
Bold primary colors pepper streets, windows and the painters themselves. These works of art range from homages to the old masters to cartoon characters. In between you’ll find abstract works akin to Jackson Pollock’s design, with the canvas being glass, asphalt and concrete.
One of my all-time favorite photos was taken at Paint the Town quite possibly 20 years ago. A couple of young artists, decorated from head-to-toe in acrylic tattoos, sprinted by me on the way to somewhere. I was able to snag an image from the hip just as one one made eye contact with the camera.
Sadly my work schedule last weekend forced me to choose one event over the other. I opted for tranquility this year. Next September, the budding artists best be ready.