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Updated: 02/26/2014 08:00:02AM

Bloomin’ Arts up and down the street

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By JEFF ROSLOW

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When people attend this year Bloomin’ Arts festival in downtown Bartow — the 43rd — there will be something new to check out.

Just south of Main Street, under the Bartow Art Guild’s area, will be an Emerging Artist display.

That is encouraging those who have done their own artwork and for whatever reason have never displayed it in a show setting.

“We’re trying to give artists the opportunity to get their feet wet,” said Bartow Art Guild President Mark Williams. “We want people to know what a weekend art scene is like and have a positive experience.”

Being involved setting up shop to show their stuff usually involves renting a table at an outdoor show, having transportation to take their work to the show and more.

“Just having the commitment is a big deal,” he said. In this setup the tables are rented and much of the work is done, he said. The cost to participate is $35 per artist and people can still sign up to setup shop under the tent, he said. All they have to do is reach him at 863-899-5417.

Williams said the idea of doing something like this is not a new concept. Though he’s not sure if other art shows in Polk County do something like this, he said he and his wife, Beverly Williams, said they saw something similar to this at Downtown Disney.

“In downtown Disney they called it emerging artists,” he said.

He said the object here is to bring out new artwork. The shows are open to those who have never displayed work at a Bloomin’ Arts festival before. And because the concept is new, this year being the debut, there are only a handful of artists who have signed up. Most of it is two-dimensional art, he said. However, he’s hoping this is just a start.

“I hope this is something that will grow,” he said. Most of the time this kind of thing has an interest to the younger set of people, but he was hoping to get older people too. Overall, though, the age doesn’t matter.

“I’m not worried about the age of the exhibitors. When we started, the conceptual thought was we’d have elderly people. But we want people to come and get their feet wet.”

In another bit of the art world coming to the public is the annual student art show. Closing down Broadway next to the Polk County History Center there will be up to 700 pieces of art displayed from 23 different schools in Polk County said Beverly Williams, an art instructor at Union Academy.

There are 23 elementary schools, at least one middle school and two high schools — Bartow High and Harrison School of the Arts — participating. Also, Rochelle Middle School may participate and that will have art from students in kindergarten through the eighth grade from that school.

She said each school can enter up to 25 pieces.

And the setup work happens fast. In order to close Broadway to traffic, the artwork won’t be set up until the morning of the show — Saturday — and it will be in place by 9:30 a.m., she said. Sounds hectic, but she’s been doing this more than 15 years so she’s got it down a bit. And the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is a great help, she said.

There will be an awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, on the steps of the Polk County History Center. The grand prize winner will win $500. Each school will get a participating ribbon and first through third will also win prizes. Schools will also be judged for their entries, she said.

In the high school division, the best of show will win $500. There will be four awards of distinction for $75 each, four achievement awards for $25 each, two festival judges awards for $20 each and four awards of merit which will win ribbons, Williams said.

The art displayed from the school will run the gamut of work, Williams said. There will be paintings, pottery, sculpture and digital work on display.


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