Today (March 9), the Palm Coast and Flagler County arts community tries to show that at least a degree of collaboration is not only possible, but is encouraged, much like art itself–even between disparate mediums. That is, the Palm Coast Arts Foundation, the Flagler County Art League, the Flagler Playhouse, and Flagler Youth Orchestra open their second Taste of the Arts festival, a collaborative effort between all of them, to raise the profile of the arts in general in Palm Coast.
It’s not a completely cohesive community: note the absence of equally notable arts groups, not least among them Hollingsworth gallery, the Flagler Auditorium and City Repertory Theatre. Perennial rivalries that go both ways, and that would make for an epic stage tale of pettiness and jealousies, continue to defeat the best efforts to create a truly unified arts “community.” That, on an evening when Hollingsworth is opening a retrospective of the fabulous William Brant, whose studies of color would inspire the creators of any genesis. Maybe there’ll be more unity next year. Half a community is not necessarily a bad start.
The afternoon begins at 4 p.m. with the art league’s “Art with Wow” show (at the art league’s City Marketplace gallery) which is “the best ever!” says Ann Delucia, art league president. There’ll be wine and food donated by local restaurants, while the youth orchestra quartet plays alongside gallery visitors. The night concludes at the Playhouse for its rendition of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” a play written in 1993 by Steve Martin. It’s the fictional account of how Albert Einstein meets Picasso in a bar called the Lapin Agile (lapin is French for rabbit) and debate each other over which of their strong suits is more powerful: talent or genius?
You could localize the game to something like: which is more influential, Hollingsworth or the Art League? Though this one-upmanship is exactly what the collaborating organizations are trying not to do. They’re looking to set an example in this sometimes tempestuous palm-fronded art scene. The example that was set at last year’s event resonated enough to inspire an art alliance like the Volusia County Cultural Alliance, “a non-profit network of community cultural organizations, individual artists and local businesses, committed to the development of the arts in Volusia County and focused on the enhancement of the quality of life for our county’s residents and visitors,” according to that group’s website.
“When you believe in arts, it doesn’t matter what form it takes. It’s important because it enriches the lives of our children,” says Pat Love, Flagler Playhouse director. She adds that it’s events like these that also bring in tourists which in turn benefits the community economically. (Continue the game: should it be art for art’s sake or for ulterior, more material motives?)
With last year’s precedent, Love says the possibilities are endless, “depending on how inclusionary we are.” One thing she’d like to see in the future, if the community goes a level deeper than “tastes,” is a week-long art festival for which the organizations involved here, and others, pool all their resources and advertising to make it happen. “If you dream big, you can always spill back later.”
It seems to go without saying that all the organizations involved in today’s collaboration bring a heightened level missing from their individual events, in addition to bringing new faces to one another’s venues in an effort to share fans. Mainly, this kind of thing will serve to cross-pollinate the different organizations. Working with all these different mediums at once “definitely enhances the experience,” Delucia says. “It definitely adds another level of class to the whole thing. This sort of thing can only be to our advantage. I just love it when we get to do two or three different types of arts at the same time.”
Before this year’s festival has even happened, the various organizations are feeling strong enough about the event that they are already in the planning process for next year’s event.
As part of today’s experience, the art league’s “Art with Wow” show, is good mix of animals, people, landscapes, and abstracts across many different mediums. Last year, the focus was strictly on portraiture. This year’s judge, Robin Moore who’s director of the Art League of Daytona Beach, wrote pages and pages on each winner, Delucia says. “They usually don’t do that much work.” The show also includes a lot of interesting sculpture but a noticeable lack of photography. “Photography has always been strong in our shows,” Delucia says. “But I think many of our photographers are saving for next month’s photography show and decided not to enter.”
As visitors’ eyes feasts on offerings from the walls their ears will be treated to Bach, Mozart, Handel, Leroy Anderson and Scott Joplin as the youth orchestra quartet performs. “It’s varied much like the artist perspectives patrons will see hanging on the walls in the gallery,” says Cheryl Tristam, the orchestra’s executive director. “Our students love to perform in public and we often here that their presence brings elegance to an event. I think it says a lot that a group of teenagers is able to make this sort of contribution and add to the quality of an event’s experience for the patrons. We hope to do that again tonight.”
She adds: “An invitation like this from a fellow arts organization validates and recognizes the work we’re doing with these students. We are excited about providing a musical component to this special gallery opening. The arts community can continue to strengthen its place in the community through these alliances. We need each other.”
How can the organizations move ahead and find new interesting partners to work with? One new avenue Delucia would like to explore in either next year’s festival or some other event is to have the garden club come to one of the shows, potentially a floral themed show, and decorate the gallery with flowers and plants.
Another example of an interesting partnership, one that’s already happened, is last month’s art and poetry show. The poets came to the gallery and wrote poems about the art entries. The show might be called “Art with Wow,” but Delucia was surprised when her favorite piece, a drawing which she describes as looking like a Rembrandt, won over two Jackson Pollock-like paintings. “It just goes to show you things can be quietly powerful and be the most effective. They don’t need to knock your socks off at first glace to show their worth.”