Art Fair on the Square organizers selected two Oregon artists among nearly 1,500 applicants to participate in the 61st Art Fair on the Square in Madison this weekend.

Paul Morrison and Alex Stehle, who both craft furniture, will showcase their pieces for Art Fair on the Square from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 13 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 14 at the Capitol Square in Madison.

Stehle told the Observer this is his first time exhibiting at Art Fair on the Square. He described his work as “custom-designed, fine woodworking furniture, created with multiple (wood) species and fundamental joinery.”

“This feels like the biggest thing to happen to my woodworking career to date,” Stehle said.

Morrison, a returning artist who participated in last year’s fair, said the event has been a favorite of his even before he considered participating. He said his furniture “emphasizes live edge designs using urban trees from the Madison landscape.

“I spent a dozen years living downtown and attended regularly, so in many ways, the Square is almost a ‘going home’ event for me,” Morrison said.

An MMoCA press release states the art fair will showcase nearly 500 artists in 489 booths “featuring for sale everything from grand sculptures to delicate contemporary jewelry, inspired ceramics and vibrant works for the wall,” – and of course Stehle and Morrison’s furniture and wood pieces.

Having found his love for woodworking in a high school class, Stehle said his style was born “immediately.” It helped that his father had a “garage full of machines and tools.”

“Whatever I was making, it had a functional purpose, but I knew I could make it look better while maintaining its use,” Stehle said. “At the time, the only options I had for doing that were using multiple (wood) species to add contrast in a piece. I loved the look of one species next to another – my favorite is walnut and maple.”

In Morrison’s case, he said artistry and craftsmanship is a “family heritage.”

“I’m a seventh-generation Wisconsin farmboy, but from my youth I was following my grandfather around as he worked in his shop, seeing and learning,” Morrison said. “On the other side of my family, my grandmother was a painter and one of the early Art Fair on the Square exhibitors. For me, it’s an honor to be working with Wisconsin hardwood using skills initially taught by my grandfather.”

Stehle said he is always looking to grow his skillset and to “keep pushing the limits of how challenging he can make his work.”

“My favorite items to build are tables – everyone needs tables – and there’s endless ways to make a table unique and useful,” Stehle said. “I aim to build one-of-a-kind pieces that people have never seen before.”

Morrison said his works, made from Dane County urban trees, are influenced both “by the arts and crafts era of the early 1900s and by the mid-century live edge designs of George Nakashima.

“Not only does (making pieces from urban trees) preserve family heritage and encourage local sourcing, but it allows me to find unique cuts and exhibit the artistry from within the trees themselves,” he said.

For more information about Art Fair on the Square, call Director of Communications Erika Monroe-Kane at 257-0158 ext. 237 or email erika@mmoca.org.