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Stratford Academy’s 2nd Annual Celebrating ART Festival Offers Something for Everyone

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Having a solid exposure to the arts is an integral part of any good education. Art is about more than just drawing or painting – art helps encourage unconventional, creative thinking; it can serve as a bridge across cultural differences; it helps us understand the scope of human experience; and it gives us multiple options for expressing and communicating our emotions and ideas. In a lot of ways, art teaches us how to think and how to be a good citizen of the world – pretty important stuff, really. Several years ago, artist and Stratford parent Lori Mitchell brought up the idea of the school hosting an artist marketplace that would include not only Stratford students and families but also the Macon community at large. Inspired by Atlanta’s Trinity School, whose Spotlight on Art celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, Stratford began planning its own event, and last year they were excited to host the inaugural Celebrating ART festival, which was such a success that it’ll be returning for a week of festivities this October 12-18.

“We were thrilled with last year’s response,” says Stratford’s Kathleen Medlin. “This was something new and unbranded for our community, but when I’d go out and pitch the idea to individuals, businesses, or groups, they were so supportive and excited about the possibilities. That really fueled our enthusiasm, and I think that spilled over into the community.” The festival comprises a number of smaller art-focused events under the thematic umbrella of “Learn, Experience, Celebrate” – there are guest lectures from visiting artists, hands-on classes and workshops, an artist marketplace, gallery showings, and so much more. In addition to community partners Wesleyan College, Mercer University, Macon Arts Alliance, and Museum of Arts & Sciences, this year Celebrating ART is excited about partnering with One City Art Festival, a citywide celebration of the arts spearheaded by the Arts Roundtable, an association of middle Georgia arts organization – the Glass Pumpkin Patch (more on it below) will be one of their featured events.

So what can you expect at this year’s festival? Architect and Macon Native William (Bill) Harrison is looking forward to returning home to kick off the event on Friday, October 13 with a breakfast lecture – catered by Fountain of Juice – during which he’ll discuss his observations on the relationship between art and architecture, and their effect on the human experience. Other notable events include a lecture from art appraiser Roderick Hardy with the interest-piquing title “From George Washington to Willie Nelson: What is Art?” If you have a piece of art that you’ve always been curious about, Hardy will also be accepting a limited number of appointments to consult with guests about their treasures, free of charge. NYC caricature artist Squigs, aka Justin Robertson, who is excited to visit Macon for the first time, will be teaching a workshop on the history and technique of the caricature art form, and he’ll also be accepting reservations for live caricature sittings. Hot Glass Academy will be hosting a holiday ornament workshop, and will also feature their work in the Glass Pumpkin Patch, an artistic spin on a traditional fall favorite where you can admire hundreds of hand-blown glass pumpkins and even pick out one to take home.

And of course there are several opportunities to have the chance to view work by artists both local and from across the country – the Stratford Connections art exhibit, located in Stratford’s Parker Buzzell Gallery, will feature works created by Stratford parents, faculty, alumni, and grandparents. Gallery 6010 Artist Marketplace is a pop-up gallery showing hundreds of original pieces, many of which will be available for sale. Admission to both of these galleries is free to the public. Kathleen Medlin has a favorite story from last year – post-festival, as they were working to dismantle the Stratford Connections gallery in the school’s main lobby, “a group of our high school boys walked through and said, ‘Do you have to take it down? It was really cool to walk by every day and see all the art.’ People of all ages enjoy being exposed to art.”

For more information about the festival, and to purchase tickets to individual events, visit Celebrating ART’s website at www.celebratingartmacon.com – you can also find them on Facebook, or contact them via telephone at 478-477-8073, ext 614. Be sure to take the time to check out these diverse, interesting opportunities that Stratford is working hard to bring to our community. “I’d love for Celebrating ART to be around 35 years from now and be one of THE art events in our community,” says Kathleen Medlin. “We want to bring new and different speakers each year, so there will always be something to celebrate at Celebrating ART.”

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