The BloodMobile parked at the entrance to Tom Varn Park and the signs stating “Urgent need for blood” was somber reminders that the 36th Annual Art in the Park sponsored by the Hernando County Fine Arts Council was much different from ones in the past. The popular event took place on March 14 and 15, 2020.
“It was not easy for us, or anyone else in our position, to have to make a decision to cancel events or not; we really were in a tough spot because so many people were depending on the show going forward,” stated Jan Knowles, Project Coordinator for the Council.
Although about twenty-five exhibitors canceled because of the Coronavirus, others came at the last minute that was from other canceled shows. In the end, approximately 120 exhibitors showed up. And all but one of the twelve food vendors came – (an always-important part of events such as these).
Although attendance was roughly half of the normal crowd, attendance was still very good over the two days and those who did come were not disappointed. Overall, exhibitors were pleased because people were buying and not just looking. There was a wide variety of fine arts, as well as fine crafts, exemplifying the diverse talent of the artists and crafts-people. Many came from the local area, while others came from as far away as Vermont. There was also a large display of art done by students in elementary, middle and high schools. And there was diverse entertainment to appeal to just about everyone’s interests. I wish I could comment about all the talented people that participated and all the unique items that were displayed. For those of you who were not able to make the event, here is a snapshot.
Liz Torrence uses recycled materials to craft one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Magazines, junk mail, old greeting cards, and even toilet paper rolls are her media. She also takes old T-shirts, cuts them into strips, weaves them together into “yarn” on her hand-made loom and then rolls the “yarn” into balls. This “yarn” is used to make colorful necklaces.
“I’ve been doing this for about four years. I started out making paper beads. Then my imagination just took over. I call it re-cycling or up-cycling art,” Ms. Torrence explained.
Andy Muzzy and his partner, David Burton, are both firefighters in Hillsborough County. They create large American flag pictures from fire hoses. The pair started doing this in 2016.
“We built a couple of flag pictures for people and got a lot of interest so we turned it into a business,” Muzzy commented.
They formed a company, Firehouse Designs, and sell the pictures mostly through their Facebook page. They’ve sold hundreds and have shipped to all forty-eight states in the continental U.S.
Carl and Karen Sutliff from Pennsylvania sell all-natural soaps and lotions through their company, Sutliff Naturals. The couple orders their products from their friends, Dave and Kay Hoyt of Northwood Naturals, who make them in individual batches in their home.
“We are doing this because we believe in and love the products,” stated Mrs. Sutliff.”
The couple sells to retail customers and also wholesale the items too large distributors, such as Whole Foods. The Sutliffs are moving to Brookridge soon and will be partnering with Weeki Wachee Springs and Homosassa Springs to carry the products in their gift shops.
Nan Bodine, a local author, was selling her books. She uses the pen name Nancy Clarke and started writing the “Stormy Hill” novel series when she was in seventh grade. After Ms. Bodine retired from teaching, she found a publisher and her seven-book series is now available in hard-cover, paperback and E-book format. The stories are set in Lexington, Kentucky in the 1960s and relate the tale of a young girl, living on a farm, who has a dream of raising her horse to be a racehorse.
“It’s a ‘feel-good’ underdog story. The books are geared to children ages nine and up, but I have adults who also enjoy the stories,” Ms. Bodine remarked.
Lyn Novak Hise has been exhibiting at Art in the Park on and off for the past several years.
“I feel very fortunate that the show is still going on and that I did apply this year because my next three shows have been canceled. This was a blessing,” Ms. Hise remarked.”
The Inverness resident paints on sheet copper and also makes prints of her work. The process involves a number of steps and Ms. Hise has been honing her craft for twenty-three years.
The entertainment at the event covered a range of music. It included a local band, “Montgomery,” that plays Blues and Classic Rock; the Hernando Youth Orchestra and the Hernando Jazz Society.
Perhaps one of the most impressive exhibits was the tent that housed the student artwork. It included sculpture, ceramics, water-color, and other media. Students from elementary through high school participated.
Because it was a juried show, the Fine Arts Council awarded cash prizes, as well as ribbons. Here is a list of the winning entries:
Fine Arts Division:
1st place: Terry Smith
2nd place: Tony Moore
3rd place (2): Deborah Elaine and Gary Duquette
Honorable Mention (2): Justin Alsedek and Juan Carlos Cahue
Fine Crafts Division
1st place: Harold Littlebird
2nd place: Sal Gullo
3rd place: (2): Diane Buz and Patricia Lynne Hutchins
Honorable mention (2): Lois Bendheim and Elizabeth Torrence
“I want to thank everyone who participated and attended. We all needed the break. The weather was so beautiful and it was all outside. The music and entertainment relaxed us all for a little while anyway,” Ms. Knowles concluded.