Monday, September 01, 2014

Weekend highlights abundant artistic, community spirit

6/20/2014

The first day of summer — today — brings hot weather and reasons to celebrate. The streets of Ottawa this weekend are expected to be full of families and individuals indulging in local art at the inaugural SWAN Arts Festival at Ottawa’s downtown City Park, Fifth and Main streets.

That’s good news for local businesses and artists alike, as well as community members thirsting for family friendly activities amid the increasing heat of the season.

The first day of summer — today — brings hot weather and reasons to celebrate. The streets of Ottawa this weekend are expected to be full of families and individuals indulging in local art at the inaugural SWAN Arts Festival at Ottawa’s downtown City Park, Fifth and Main streets.

That’s good news for local businesses and artists alike, as well as community members thirsting for family friendly activities amid the increasing heat of the season.

The SWAN Arts Festival fills a June activity void left by such now-defunct celebrations as Skunk Run Festival and Cowboy Days, both of which heavily featured City Park and downtown. This weekend’s SWAN festival includes musical acts sure to draw crowds to the park space, as well as a community cookout 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today. But the heart and soul of the three-day event is art itself.

Numerous art demonstrations — from chalk art and writing workshops to ceramics, photography and painting activities — are on the festival’s lengthy schedule for today. Demonstrations on edible art, quilt blocks and weaving continue Sunday at City Park. It’s a whirlwind of activity that should help the community reconnect to its artistic roots.

The festival is the brainchild of Shawn Dickinson, who, as an Ottawa city commissioner, wasn’t content to simply talk about reinvigorating the city’s downtown and cultural landscape. He and his team of organizers and sponsors actually are doing something about it. And while success never is guaranteed with freshman efforts, we applaud their hard work and dedication, and wish the festival a long life in Ottawa.

A couple blocks up Main Street — and just in time for SWAN festival-goers to take a gander — a longtime community art piece also has a new look. As part of the “Ottawa 150” sesquicentennial birthday celebration, colored tile simulating the tribal beadwork of the Ottawa Indians, for which the city is named, has been installed on the base of the Buffalo Woman statue, which sits on the lawn of the Franklin County Courthouse, 315 S. Main St.

The tile beadwork, as well as additional tile work around the statue, was completed this week by Dick Crooks, of Crooks Floor Covering, Ottawa. Crooks deserves a hearty thanks not only for his own personal labor on the project, but also for paying the cost of the tile and materials out of his own pocket. (See Page 1 of today’s Herald for a feature story on the project.)

And there are plenty of kudos to go around. The beadwork design itself — also featured across the front page of today’s newspaper — was recreated by The Herald’s JT Kent with the assistance of Deborah Barker, Franklin County Historical Society director. And the design for the Ottawa Town Company seal — also a new addition to the Buffalo Woman statue — was recreated by The Herald with the help of Ottawa architect Doug Loyd, and then crafted to perfection by Hasty Awards, Ottawa, which donated the seal to the project at the business’ own expense. (The town company seal also is available for purchase in the form of a commemorative coin marking the city’s 150th birthday.)

From the SWAN Arts Festival to the Buffalo Woman’s new beadwork, none of these projects succeed without substantial support. We’re fortunate to have such generous, forward-thinking community backers working to celebrate Ottawa and its heritage.

Tommy Felts,

managing editor

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