Art in the Park – 2016

Here’s what’s going on in Brooksville, Florida on the same weekend:

Art in the Park – March 12-13 – Free ($5 to park)
Swamp Fest – March 11-13 – $8 adults/$4 children 6-12
Will McLean Music Festival – March 11-13 – $25/day

What a wonderful example of a lack of communication and coordination! All of these events are within 20 miles of each other, and they’re all scheduled for the same weekend. It’s not as if Brooksville/Spring Hill has such a huge sophisticated population to support three such events on the same weekend, but the coordinators don’t seem to take that into consideration (why not?). Plus, not many people are going to travel to an event in Brooksville, Florida, a small town with very little to recommend it. There isn’t even a bookstore! (I often wonder why I live here!)

Now Will Fest is always well attended because of all the musicians and fans of folk/old time music in Florida and the surrounding states. In fact it appeared to have even more than its usual large crowd. The campground was packed. And there were more vendors this year. More interesting to me, there were four mountain dulcimer events compared to only one workshop offered the previous years. The dulcimer jams were well attended and some of the best I’ve encountered. Most of the participants were excellent musicians and the music rocked!

Then on Sunday I got together with friends, Marlene, Don, and Di, to view the art in Art in the Park. IMHO, the event was pathetic. There were probably half the vendors of previous years, although someone told us that all the spaces had been sold out. (Yeah, right.) The attendance was thin from what I saw at 11 am on Sunday. Maybe there were more people on Saturday, but I was off having a blast at Will Fest and didn’t see.

To make matters worse, someone decided to make more money from the (free) event by charging $5 to park; at least that’s what they did that on Saturday. When we got there on Sunday no one was collecting parking fees, so I guess they’d given up. Faced with a $5 fee, most people just parked off site and walked in.

The art itself, however, was some of the best I’ve seen at that show. I ended up chatting with some of the artists while my friends wandered on, and so, when they came back and dragged me off to lunch, I missed out on some of the vendors on the far side of the lake. Of the ones I did see, however, many were very good and two were worthy of note.

Emilio (Sonny) Vergara is a photographer whose photographs of Florida landscapes and wildlife are gorgeous! His style is painterly … in fact I thought one was a painting until I walked over to it. Vergara’s use of color and composition are superb. He’s an excellent craftsman who is based in Brooksville. His business is Sky Shadow Photographs – Check him out … He does prints on canvas as well as paper.

Clovis Dean Rusk paints in oils, and told me that he’s only been working in fine art for the past three years. Prior to that he was a graphic artist, and this shows in his excellent drawing skills. I was once told that the only artists who can actually draw are sculptors and illustrators. Well Rusk is an excellent example of a painter who can draw. I don’t think I could pick a favorite from his paintings. Each one of them has something different to say and each one is well executed. I was first attracted to the painting of Poppa Bear,  a stereotypical biker — a hefty bearded male wearing leathers, dew rag, tats, and holding a beer bottle while standing in front of an American flag. In a baby carrier on his chest is a Pomeranian, wearing goggles and a helmet. It is a brilliantly executed painting ( And this was only one of the paintings I admired there. Each one was different, each one was well painted, and each one drew you in. Rusk’s blog is where he talks about his process and how he builds his paintings, and a lot of other things (he’s in a band). I hope to see more of his works. It’s excellent!

These were actually the only two artists that I got to examine in any detail. There were some others I would have liked to spend more time with, but, well … next year.

2 thoughts on “Art in the Park – 2016”

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