Art Comes Alive At Inagural Arts Alive in Haines City
by James Coulter
What do bubbles, gears, and paint all have in common? They’re all items you can use to make art, and they’re all items you could find made into art during the inaugural Arts Alive! festival in Haines City.
For the very first time, dozens of artists, craftsmen, and other vendors from within and outside the local area congregated within Railroad Park in Downtown Haines City to showcase their artwork.
Melissa and Chad Kroh, for example, traveled all the way from Davenport to showcase their unique “steampunk boho goblin style” arts and craft from their venue, “Gears And Goblins.” Some of their wares included jewelry made from a random assortment of odds, ends, and bobbles like what a goblin hiding in the walls would find.
Melissa, dressed in bright pink pigtails, loves goblins and is even writing her own fantasy story about them. As such, the art she creates is exactly what a goblin would make from the random items they found lying around.
Chad, on the other hand, enjoys steampunk, and crafts his own items to be slightly more rustic. Both of them enjoy putting their heads together to create truly unique merchandise unlike anything anyone else has ever seen.
“A little bit of everything for everyone,” he said, explaining how inspiration comes from “whatever is going through my head.”
This was the very first year the event was hosted by Amanda’s Academy of Dance (AAD) through the AAD Fine Arts Foundation Inc., a local non-profit organization which, according to Facebook, “promote awareness of and participation in the visual and performing arts for the residents of Central Florida.”
The proceeds from the event will go towards funding scholarships through the foundation to help provide local children an opportunity to take art classes through the local studio, with classes in dance, circus arts, acting lessons, and other arts.
“Our organization, it gives scholarships to children to get them off of the street, get them off of their iPads, and get them off their phone, get more socialization, and more [involved with] art education,” said Amanda Ferreira, ADD Director.
More than a dozen vendors appeared that Saturday for the very first event. Originally, the festival was scheduled earlier this month, but was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian.
“We lost a few vendors, we actually had people show up last Saturday,” she said. “But I think it gave us more time to prepare, more time to prepare, we were prepared for the worst, but we were blessed that it was the best outcome possible.”
Ferreira enjoyed being able to meet new people at the festival, especially being able to see different kinds of arts and crafts on display.
Maria Swire, an artist from Plant City, who provides artwork through her venue, M’ria’s Mezzanine, was one of those artists. She specializes in abstract creative work that emphasizes the female form. As a ballet dancer, she is especially intrigued by how the female body can bend and shape different ways. She loves to emphasize this within her work, she said.
“Sometimes it is very pronounced; other times, it is hidden,” she said. “They are colored and shaped differently. So whatever you see is whatever your mind tells you to see.”
For the past four years, she has been engaging in her artwork and showcasing it at events such as this. With this being the very first event in Haines City, she was eager to give it a try. She was not disappointed.
“I had a spot on my calendar that I needed to fill,” she said. “I was looking on the internet and this popped up, and I figured it would be a good time to come out.”
While the event may have started out small and slow, she has big expectations of it expanding in the coming years.
“We are looking forward to making this an annual event, it will grow over time and get better each and every year,” she said.