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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Searching for support

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vickie DeWitt helps organize some of the pieces of art on display and available for sale at Blue Moon Gifts, Brazil. DeWitt is one of several local artists hoping to organize a local arts association for people living in Clay, Parke and Putnam counties. [Order this photo]
*Group interested in putting together artists' association

A local group is looking for artistic and creative people living in Clay, Parke and Putnam counties who are interested in supporting the arts.

"We're in the early stages of developing a local artists' association," organizer Vickie DeWitt recently told The Brazil Times. "Putnam County Community Foundation executive director Elaine Peck is interested in helping us organize. We want to find people who are interested in supporting the arts and artists in their local community. It is very important that artists start networking with other artists in support of each other and help organize events that will showcase their talent, highlight their culture and create a strong and thriving artist based economy."

DeWitt admitted to being excited about returning to live in Indiana after living in Portland, Ore., for several years. DeWitt said she was looking forward to seeing artists display their talents while attending the Covered Bridge Festival.

"I remembered going to the festival as a child, seeing the artists and looking at the art," she said. "I loved going."

However, she was disappointed at the apparent commercialism at many locations. She was also disheartened with the high cost of participating in the event.

"It was a shame. There is so much untapped talent in this area," DeWitt said. "I'm blown away by not only the talent, but the passion local artists have for their craft. So many (artists) have an earthy, natural feeling to their art, a real love of and for the work they do. I really admire their ability to slow down and focus on their medium -- putting their heart and soul into their work -- it really shows in the finished piece."

With that in mind, DeWitt opened the doors of the old Perth schoolhouse to any local artist to display their work for free during the festival, creating the Sanctuary of Arts program.

"It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved," she said. "And the best thing to happen was that it got artists talking to each other."

DeWitt said the initial small group of 15 artists realized they needed to get organized and plan public events to spotlight talent. The group now has a database of approximately 90 artists, craftsmen and supporters from Clay, Parke, Putnam and a few from the Indianapolis area, and hopes to generate more.

Another event that gathered artists and community members in support of local arts was on Nov. 22-23, 2008. Event organizer Edie Richards told The Brazil Times that more than 400 people visited the Celebration of the Arts and Soul event at the old Masonic Temple.

"Art is very important to people because it gives them hope and helps them think outside the box about their lives," Richards said about the art exhibit she helped organize. "There are a lot of artists out there that don't have a venue or the necessary connections that would allow them to participate in a venue to show their work. An art association will help create those types of opportunities."

Admitting to dabbling in a few artistic mediums herself, Debbie Dennany, owner of Blue Moon Gifts, Brazil, is also helping.

"I have a real love and admiration of the arts," Dennany said. "I enjoy promoting local crafts people and artists in my store. It raises the energy level of a community when there is involvement and enlightenment through the arts."

"We don't want to be an organization that sits around at meetings and does nothing," DeWitt said. "The more we know about what is going on in the out there with our local artists, the more we can do to show their talents to the world."

The two women said the art association will be an umbrella of all aspects of human creativity, including art forms such as drawing, painting, sculpture, crafting, textiles, writing, storytelling/comedy, music, theatre, dance and using high-tech mediums like digital photography and movie making.

"Anything goes in the art world," she said. "The creative possibilities are endless.

For more information about helping to organize and support a local art association, contact Vicki DeWitt by e-mail at sanctuaryofthearts@yahoo.com.

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