Macon County Art Association’s first ArtFest deemed a success

To celebrate its 60th birthday, the Macon County Art Association presented its first ever ArtFest this past weekend at the public library with painting demonstrations, hands-on activities, movies and mini-workshops of all kinds. The event culminated in a benefit concert featuring Blue Jazz to raise money for arts in schools. For the full story and more photos, see page 6. Photo submitted

Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

Macon County Art Association (MCAA) celebrated its 60th anniversary by putting

For the fundraising event of the ArtFest, Carol Conti dressed up as famed artist Georgia O’Keeffe, while her artist friend, dressed as artist Frida Kahlo.

on the first-ever ArtFest Aug. 11-13, at the Macon County Public Library. Artist and organizer Carol Conti expressed that the event was a “success,” with “enthusiastic parents, children, and individuals coming back all three days.” MCAA determined that approximately 300 attended the three-day event that started with a Saturday night fundraiser celebration at Tartan Hall featuring local musical trio Blue Jazz. Monday raised will go to support Macon County arts programs and teachers. 

The three-day ArtFest was a free event for children and adults that included art demonstrations, classes, workshops, and films. 

“They were impressed with the variety of choices and the quality of artwork being demonstrated. Thursday was the main day for children’s activities with six art teachers participating, as well as two, 8-year-old children as ‘Kids Teaching Kids,’” Conti said.

She explained that one popular activity was squeegee art, with around 70 attending the activity offered by local art teacher Jessica Moschouris. Programs such as painted clay pieces with Jeff Marley from SCC Heritage Arts Program and marbling with Jessica Carpenter also drew crowds. “Debra Carroll had over 40 attendees between two sessions of paint projects. And there were always long lines for face painting!” said Conti.

Conti added that there were numerous hands-on activities, with encouraging and skillful art presenters, such as Verlee Jones, and 81-year-old watercolorist from Hiawassee.

Art themed movies for children and adults were also offered throughout ArtFest. 

“On Thursday evening, ‘Loving Vincent,’ the first ever animated film, was viewed by 30 attendees who enjoyed it immensely and clapped at the end!” she said. 

“Friday was slower paced with fewer children’s activities but still busy with around 100 people,” said Conti, pointing out that demonstrators included Jon Houglum, Maryellen Tully, John Sill, and Terrie Prestia, with Saturday featuring

Local Artist Carol Conti presents her original painting “Smoky Mountain Fall,” to Mary Murray of Franklin, the winner of a raffle to raise money for art programs in Macon County Public Schools.

outdoor spray painting with Jesse Dallas and much more. Local artist Poané shared an acrylic paint presentation. 

“It seems attendees really loved the variety of the visual arts offered,” said Conti. “All in all, the ones who attended as well as the artists themselves, were enthusiastic and very happy that they came. We [MCAA] are definitely discussing making this an annual event, but considering opening it up to other types of artists in the community, such as writers, musicians, and more.”