By Rob Glidden
Artists and performers were in the spotlight during the second weekend of this year’s Apple Harvest Festival, which continues to emphasize the artistic side of Southington.
“It brings a great added piece to the festival, which keeps getting bigger and better,” said Town Councilor Chris Palmieri, who chairs the event’s supervisory committee.
Since 2009, the Harvest the Arts event has given festival visitors a chance to experience and participate in the arts in numerous ways. For the past few years, Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) has also used the Apple Harvest season as an opportunity to create elaborate murals for the community to enjoy.
This year, the group has been hard at work decorating several buildings on the Rails to Trials corridor.
The murals on the trail are supported by a grant from the Greater Hartford Arts Council, in addition to help from the Southington YMCA and donated materials from local art shops.
“When you’re an artist, people are always asking you to do stuff for free,” said Mary DeCroce, chairperson of the SCCA. “To be able to actually pay these artists, and give them a chance to have their work out there, was wonderful.”
The first mural, a huge rendering of a train depot to honor the trail’s previous life as a railroad track, was completed in August by DeCroce, Ryan Christensen and Reo Russo. Another was done by students in a YMCA graffiti-art course taught by Christensen – it depicts a natural setting with the words “Rails to Trails” front and center.
One mural in progress during the festival is also being done with graffiti and Christensen hopes the final result will change the perception of the style.
“It’s got a Kansas open plains look to it and we made sure to have a cow getting sucked into that tornado,” Christensen said. “I really wanted to show people what can be done with graffiti. It gets stereotyped but now people will have a chance to see it done properly.”
The other mural will incorporate the work of several artists. Seven plywood panels, each assigned to a different artist, will be the canvas for life-size images of people walking on the trail. These panels will be added to a painted image of a blue sky, green grass, and the paved trail.
Several of these panels have already been completed but not added to the side of the building yet. One depicts Clark Kent riding a bicycle with Krypto the Superdog in a basket while another is an image of a skateboarder riding through a tropical forest. The theme of moving down a trail is consistent, but the art styles involved are distinctive and reflect the collaboration between many different artists.
Back over in the town green area, several other attractions and events celebrated the creative and performing arts. The usual rows of vendors selling unique crafts enjoyed large crowds while Jomo Majka of Burlington was named the winner of the “Connecticut Icon” singing competition.
On Center Street, representatives from numerous arts organizations and businesses had a chance to perform and sell their work to festival guests.
“This is great and I’m glad we got in on it,” said Jon Bristol, the general manager of the Paris in Plantsville gallery. “It’s always fun.”
Artists Linda DeLuca and Gail Bannock, representing Southington Arts and Crafts, demonstrated paintings and watercolors.
“This whole stretch [on Center Street] is working artists,” Bannock said. “It’s nice because people get to see them create in addition to having their finished products on display.”
This year’s Apple Harvest Festival is over, but artists will continue to work on the murals in the coming weeks and hope to host a special event once they are completed.