Art in the Park - Newcomer one of 50 featured artists

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Monona photographer Amber Rodgers is one of 50 featured artists at Art in the Park.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


A newcomer to Northeast Iowa is one of 50 artists featured at the Art in the Park festival, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21, in Founders Park, Elkader.

Amber Rodgers is a landscape and wildlife photographer who moved to Monona four years ago from Florida, where the Ohio native went to college to earn a degree in marine science.

“While living in Tampa, I met my fiancée, Grant Langhus, and we decided to move to his hometown,” Amber explained. In Tampa, Amber was a zookeeper at Lowry Park Zoo where she participated in a manatee rehabilitation program. She also developed her interest in photography there.

“It started as a hobby,” admitted the life-long outdoor enthusiast. “I’m a birder and I wanted to capture pictures of the birds I was seeing to help with the identification process. From there, my photography interest just grew.”

Amber moved from birds to landscapes after traveling to several National Parks. In addition to capturing the beauty of Mother Nature and providing a way for others to connect with the land, her new interest provided the additional challenge of understanding angles and lighting.

“It’s not just about getting the subject in the picture but finding a way to capture it that will bring some depth to it and draw in the audience,” she said. “Plus, you want something unique that not everyone one else has.”

Amber’s nature work runs the gamut from trees to mountains to waterfalls to unique plant species. Her wildlife photos feature birds, mammals and insects. Her academic background and earlier work as a zookeeper have given her special tools to capture wildlife on film. “Knowing wildlife behavior is key,” she said.

For Amber, the rewards of her art include being outdoors and exploring “all of the different things nature holds.”

“Being able to share your photography with other people, helping them connect with nature, and inspiring them to get out all explore (the world), that’s great, too,” she continued. “Also, all photographers have shots on their bucket list—it can be anything from a scenic location or that one bird you could never get a picture of. Being able to cure that moment perfectly is also rewarding.”

Amber’s contribution to Art in the Park will be prints of local scenes and favorites from her National Parks tour. Look for waterfalls, birds, fall scenery, elk, bald eagles, flowers and barn pictures.

Though she’s exhibiting for the first time this year, this is not Amber’s first contact with Art in the Park.

“I visited last year and thought it was a great idea to make people aware of all of the great local art,” she said. “There’s a lot of great talent in the Driftless region it’s nice to see people come out and support their local communities and local artists. I thought this event would be a good opportunity to get my work out there for the local community to see.”

Though many local artists will be part of this special juried event, the festival will also showcase artists from across the Midwest and as far away as California. Last year’s inaugural festival drew a large crowd modestly estimated at about 1,500. Organizers expect between 4,000 and 5,000 festival visitors this year.

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