By Lindsay Carey
Harvest the Arts, which encompasses the second weekend of the Apple Harvest Festival, featured a wide range of art including pottery, paintings, photographs, poetry and much more. There was also an interactive light arts show called Light Artists Making Places.
Southington Community Cultural Arts President Mary DeCroce, who is in charge of Harvest the Arts, said it was a different and new experience for many people in town.
“There was a person that was actively painting and then it would project on the wall,” said DeCroce. “People liked that because at first they didn’t know what she was doing and then all of a sudden it was like ‘Oh she’s doing an elephant!’”
DeCroce said Harvest the Arts provides a unique opportunity not only for artists, but for Southington residents.
“I think it gives people an opportunity to connect to the arts and that’s what this is all about,” said DeCroce. “They watch and then they may get to try spinning pottery themselves. Instead of thinking that they can’t draw or that their not an artist, but they learn that art is something fun that anyone can do.”
Harvest the Arts is truly an interactive experience. There were artists like spray paint artist Ryan “Arcy” Christensen from RC Murals that did live spray painting of an apple during the event on Saturday.
Another live exhibit came from pottery spinning couple Justin Gerace and Yessenia Manrique of Gerace Ceramics.
Gerace, who has been making pottery for 11 years, was spinning a pottery wheel and making pieces before festival goers’ eyes. He said this year is the fourth year he’s been doing this.
“I love demonstrating in front of the people,” said Gerace. “It helps get your work out there a little bit more. When you’re just sitting down and selling your work at your table that’s a certain kind of draw, but when people can see you making it there’s an immediate connection with the pieces that are for sale, because they can see the creative process.”
Gerace feels that demonstration helps sell art for this reason.
“You’re more inclined to like a painting if you can see the guy working on it and see how he’s layering the colors, so I think that’s a pretty good draw for it,” said the Gerace has he handled clay.
Gerace teaches at the Creative Clay Spot in Berlin and at Wesleyan Potters in Middletown. He is also on the board for the Gura Building, and is planning to set up a pottery studio in the art center.
During the Apple Harvest Festival, the Gura Building, which the SCCA secured to create an arts center, was open for tours during the Apple Harvest Festival.
“We had a lot of people come through that were really supportive and interested in what was going on there,” said DeCroce.
Thought SCCA was not able to give tours of the whole building, because of fire code, the front room was open for people to see the plans and find out updates.
“We’re just finalizing our plans for the building permit so we’re hoping to start the renovation in a couple weeks,” said DeCroce.
Three artists representing “Brown Bag Art” also had a booth displaying their pieces on Saturday at Harvest the Arts.
Cody Lord who does oil painting, photographer John Sokolowski and line artist
Gerry Niemierowko represented Brown Bag Art.
The group of artists said that they found out about the festival through their other member, Kevin Curtis, who has had his own personal booth at the festival for the last three years.
Sokolowski said they wanted to be a part of Harvest the Arts to get some exposure.
Niemierowko agreed saying that the group is just starting to get involved in the Southington art scene, because of Mary DeCroce.
“I think the Southington art scene is growing and building momentum,” said Lord. “Mary DeCroce has been a great help with letting us know about the venues.”
According to Niemierowko, Brown Bag Art has some of their work hanging in Sixpence Pie Company.
The group, who’s members are aged around 23, said that they hope the art scene continues to grow, because they believe they are some of the youngest artists featured in Southington.
An artist of a different form and of a different age group also shared her work at the festival. Joan LaRose, a Southington resident for 60 years, shared, signed and sold her book of poetry “Journey” at Harvest the Arts.
LaRose said that she has enjoyed the festival for many years and that it feels rewarding to be a part of it in a new way.
“Writing a book of poetry was something I’ve always wanted to do,” said LaRose. “I was very shy, but I learned at a young age that I could express myself through poetry and I want to share that with other people.”
LaRose said that poetry has gotten her through some difficult times and has helped her deal with her Parkinson’s disease.
“There’s not a lot I can do any more, but poetry brings me great joy and I hope to continue to share it with other people,” she said.
By Lindsay Carey