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Dragon on the Lake is about the art

Gary Alderman may not use a paint brush, but his strokes are just as intricate. Photo submitted. (click for larger version)
August 15, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Intern

Once again the time has come to break out your best dragon: Dragon on the Lake is returning from August 25 to 26 and this year the focus will be on the art more than ever.

"It's natural for Dragon on the Lake to have art, because it's sponsored by the Orion Art Center, and there are a lot of different art elements which is really exciting," said Lauren Dinneweth, director of the Orion Art Center.

Dragon on the Lake was originally started as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Orion Art Center. Since then it has evolved into an annual, multi-faceted art fair that serves as one of the center's fundraisers for its many camps, classes and exhibits throughout the year.

"Not many people know that the festival is put on by the Orion Art Center," Dinneweth said.

This year, demonstrations will be the most emphasized part of the festival. Artists from all over the Oakland County area will be showing a broad range of work, from pottery to painting to sculpture. Visiting artists will include Al Brown, a Lake Orion resident who does nature-based sculptures in marble and bronze, and Donn Angel Perez, a painter who creates large abstract canvases by painting to music.

Perez has also created pieces for the Hope and Healing Show, which is currently displayed inside the Orion Art Center. The show, sponsored by the McLaren Cancer Institute, features work done exclusively by cancer survivors and those who have helped care for cancer patients. For Dragon on the Lake, the show will travel into a tent outside the center so that visitors to the festival can see the work and read the stories of the artists.

Meanwhile, the inside of the Orion Art Center will be occupied by a solo show by an artist called Roman Serra. Serra focuses on large, abstract pieces and will be showing a series called "Year of the Dragon" for the festival, which Dinneweth called, "just perfect for Dragon on the Lake."

"His stuff is vivid and has vibrant colors. It's really a celebration," Dinneweth said.

This year's festival will also feature a number of specific areas and some popular contests. New this year is the Special Needs area in the Children's Park gazebo, which features a special needs art exhibit, while a few minutes away the kids' area will be returning with several art-related activities, such as a craft tent where kids can paint tiles to be installed in McLaren hospitals.

Also returning is the Chalk Art Challenge, which is being moved to the sidewalks of downtown Lake Orion. In the contest, artists register for a fee of $10 and are provided chalk and a sidewalk square to create their best dragon, with $500 in prizes up for grabs. If chalk is not their preference, artists can compete in the Dragons, Lakes, and Legends Show, in which participants try to create their best dragon (often a sculptural piece) for $500 in prizes.

Ultimately, though, Dinneweth is most excited about the artist demonstrations and the communication between the artist and the viewer.

"I truly feel the most important thing about art is being able to share it. It's amazing to be able to see the work happening and talk to the artists," Dinneweth said. "You go away and it makes you think about things you might not have thought about before."

For more information about Dragon on the Lake, check out or call the Orion Art Center at 248-693-4986.

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