Arts in the Park expands, offers diversity

This year’s Arts in the Park celebration gave visitors an opportunity to enjoy art from a variety of different mediums. Music tied the event together with a performance by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

James Fellenbaum conducted the orchestra as a part of the KSOs Concerts in the Community program. Symphony fans turned out in droves to take advantage of the free concert, which consisted of pop and light classical favorites. Families, complete with canine companions, brought picnic baskets and plopped down in the grass on blankets and in lawn chairs to enjoy the show.

The evening concert provided the perfect close to four days of enjoying and celebrating the arts in Blount County.

At the finale on Saturday, May 2, local artists were on hand teaching both adults and children to experiment in new artistic media, from watercolors and oils to altered books and ballet; art classes and tutorials were completely free, courtesy of Fine Arts Blount.

Visitors browsed through fresh local produce, crafts and baked goods at the Maryville Farmers Market while listening to Debbie and Friends, a bluegrass group from Rocky Branch Community Center in Walland. In their booth, the Blount County Master Gardeners taught kids to make wildflower seed balls, a Native American tradition.

By noon, local and regional artists had gathered in the park for a public talk about artistic technique and the arts scene in Maryville. Creative projects were available for kids while their parents took classes in acrylics, watercolors, collage and other multimedia forms.

Like last year’s inaugural Art in the Park, a project of Fine Arts Blount (FAB), the event, which was expanded this year, was funded by a 2-year grant from the East Tennessee Foundation. In response to the higher-than-expected turnout in 2008, the City of Maryville pursued partnerships with various arts groups, including 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. FAB and the East Tennessee Foundation grant once again supplemented Arts in the Park by funding the supplies for the arts and crafts tutorials. Arts were invited to create works of art “en plein air” in the city of Maryville from Wednesday through Friday for a Plein Air Arts Competition.

This year’s expanded Arts in the Park was hosted by Fine Arts Blount and the City of Maryville, and sponsored by the Clayton Center for the Arts and the cities of Maryville and Alcoa.

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