Munn Park Event Attracts Art Lovers

Autumn Farnsworth, 10, helped another budding artist get started on the paint-it-yourself canvas prominently displayed at Munn Park Saturday morning and exclaimed to the other child, “You’re making art!”

This year’s Art Crawl drew a large crowd with live entertainment and 70 emerging artists, some brand new to the festival.

It was Crow’s Nest Artisanal Wares artist Chris Amato’s first time participating in Art Crawl. The Winter Haven artist uses industrial pipes and fixtures to make lamps that can be illuminated by turning a plumbing valve.

Photos by Greg Williams | Click on any image for a larger view.

He was inspired to make the fixtures after getting stuck under fluorescent lights at his desk job. He wanted to add something funkier to his desk, but he couldn’t find anything at the stores. So he made his own.

“I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but I knew what I wanted,” he said.

Meredith Pope exhibited her media collages. The art director and designer is known for the swan and butterfly sculptures that are dotted throughout Lakeland. 

The first time she was a vendor at the festival was Art Crawl’s first, seven years ago, but she attends each year and couldn’t help but draw a comparison from previous years. 

“I love the art,” Pope said. “I think this is one of the strongest, artistically.”

Lakeland artist Hayden Weaver displayed his stream-of-consciousness paintings for the first time ever and had sold one almost immediately after the festival opened.

Perhaps in a good mood on the heels of a sale, he seemed impressed. “It’s a lot more professional than I was expecting,” he said.

An art bike auction, put on by Regions bank, featured donated bicycles decorated by Polk County art students and teachers, with the proceeds benefitting Polk County School’s art club.

Vice President Brad Frank said the bike auction is a result of Art Crawl founder Ellen Chastain asking the bank to create awareness about the need for beginning artists to understand how to manage money.

“So we teach (artists) how to manage their money and budget on a shoestring,” Frank said.

Samantha Gaskins of Lakeland recognized some of the teachers’ names on the placards near the bikes. “It’s neat to see the people I know giving back to the community,” she said.

With so much art on display, festivalgoers could be found securing their favorite pieces.

Chuck and Cynthia McDanal, accompanied by their daughter Abby, were holding two paintings.

Chuck was holding an abstract piece from vendor Matthew Wengerd, and Cynthia was holding one from vendor Joshua Collier, a painting of the promenade on Lake Mirror.

“Art talks to you,” Chuck said. “I see something, and I say, ‘This has to go home with me.’ ”

St. Pete’s Brooke Arnold Photography sold a photo of a Sphynx cat dressed as Uncle Sam to Jamey Cordery of Lakeland, who owns five cats.

“We are very patriotic,” Cordery said. “I’m getting this for my daughter for Christmas because she gave me a cat painting for Mothers’ Day.”

And some freebies could be had. iNK Screen Printing gave away free T-shirts with an Art Crawl design to the first 200 people to fill out an event survey.

As a supporter of the arts, Brian Stevens of Lakeland stood in line with four of his six children for the T-shirts with the entertainment on the stage as a backdrop.  

His young daughter Christiana didn’t mind the line and the atmosphere of the festival. While a couple of her younger siblings grew fidgety, she was all smiles. 

“Everybody was looking forward to it,” she said.

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