Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Events

New leadership gives Art in the Park new life

BROOKSVILLE — In its glory days, it was an event that drew more than 150 artists to Hernando County to compete for cash prizes. But with a crippling economy a few years ago, participation dwindled and the annual Art in the Park festival faced extinction.

That is, until the Hernando County Arts Council turned to Paul Shaskan in 2014 to help revive the event.

That year, Shaskan gave it the necessary resuscitation and helped draw in more than 90 artists. Then last year, he teamed with Jan Knowles to head up the event, and more than 120 artisans and fine crafters participated in the show.

Knowles and Shaskan have teamed up once again to co-chair the 32nd annual Art in the Park, which will take place this weekend at Tom Varn Park.

Knowles promises visitors will be in for a treat.

Along with the scores of artists, continuous entertainment, food and a kids zone, there will be a special addition this year.

A workshop, "So You Want to Be an Artist," will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, presented by Michelle Margotta from the popular Artful Possibilities studio in Spring Hill.

"She will give free lessons," Knowles said. "And she will also be demonstrating canvas art for the show."

Also, the Hernando Symphony Orchestra will return to this year's festival to present a free concert at 2 p.m. Saturday. The group will perform selections from its recent Spectrum concerts.

"The orchestra is just wonderful," Knowles said. "They do a fantastic job."

Eight vendors will sell a variety of food, such as crab legs, Philly cheesesteaks, ribs and burgers. Wine samples will be available from Brookstone Wines.

The focus of the weekend will be the artists. More than 100 will compete for the Best in Show award of $1,000, as well as other prizes totaling $3,000.

"Many people will also be pleased to see that Larry Whidden, founder of Art in the Park, will be there with his iron and copper sculptures," Knowles said.

There will also be a student art pavilion, featuring works by local students from elementary school through college.

The kids zone will feature hands-on art, where children can create their own artwork. Parents will have an opportunity to take pictures of their young ones wearing artist berets, aprons and working at their easels.

"The kids are our future," Knowles said. "They love music. They love painting and other aspects of art. But they don't often get to see where it all comes together. This is such a wonderful chance for them to be able to love all art forms."

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