Arts in the Park festival will celebrate variety of life’s art

Anyone wishing to try their hand at art or who simply wants to enjoy good art by area artists should make plans to spend time in the Bicentennial Greenbelt Park this weekend.

The Arts in the Park festival will be Friday and Saturday, May 1-2. It is a celebration of the arts in the Blount County. The event will feature a variety of mediums for people to enjoy and try out for themselves.

The highlight of the festival will be the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performing at the Theater in the Bicentennial Greenbelt Park at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Arts in the Park offers a promising concept: that to be fully appreciated, art needs to be woven into daily life, to be personally experienced and even created. This weekend is an opportunity to try out this hands-on approach to art. The added bonus will be the chance to lie on a quilt and drink sweet tea as strains of Mendelssohn performed by the symphony drift languidly through the park.

The 2008 Art in the Park, a project of Fine Arts Blount (FAB) that was funded by a 2-year grant from the East Tennessee Foundation, had a higher-than-expected turnout. In response, the City of Maryville pursued partnerships with various arts groups, among them FAB, in an attempt to pull together a larger and more comprehensive event.

Ultimately, Art in the Park was upgraded to Arts in the Park with the addition of new media like dance, street performance and orchestral music.

Arts in the Park will provide a number of opportunities for both adults and children to experiment in new artistic media, from watercolors and oils to altered books and ballet.

Art classes and tutorials are free and include materials, courtesy of FABs remaining East Tennessee Foundation grant funds. Lessons for adults will focus on producing art en plein air, a French expression referring to a style of art produced in open air, and therefore responding to the changing conditions and shifting light that inevitably come with working out of doors.

There will also be a number of Make and Take craft projects for kids, all provided free of charge. Leading up to the events on Saturday, amateur and professional local artists of all kinds are invited to participate in an en plein air competition, in which participants pick up a canvas or other medium from Fine Arts Blount, find an inspiring location, and work there to create a piece of art.

Artists must contact FAB before Friday to participate; for more information, call 865-982-0898 or email 3chairsstudio@live.com. The pieces will be exhibited and judged in a gallery show on Saturday preceding the concert.

On Saturday morning, the festival will coincide with the Maryville Farmers Market, which will offer fresh vegetables, baked goods and dairy products, crafts, and even music from bluegrass performers Debbie and Friends from Rocky Branch Community Center in Walland. The Blount County Master Gardeners will be on hand to help kids make wildflower seed balls, a Native American tradition.

The Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra, conducted by James Fellenbaum, will perform as a part of the KSOs Concerts in the Community program. The free concert, consisting of pop and light classical favorites, will be held on the Maryville Greenbelt stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 2. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs as seating.

For event information, contact the City of Maryville Events Office at 865-273-3406.

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