Hot summer days may seem far away as snow is still melting, but planning for an annual arts event set for the second weekend in June began last week.
Arts on the Avenue, the only fine arts festival in Tahlequah, features performing and visual art and artists. It will be held June 13-14, downtown at the Cherokee Square.
Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase art from top regional traditional native art and non-native artists, create art, listen to all genres of music, chat with artists and authors and musicians and taste culinary arts.
The event is a juried art show and sale, and artists have to submit photos of their creations. Visual art includes hand-crafted jewelry, photography, basket weaving, pottery, stone and wood sculpture, paintings, calligraphy and graphic design prints.
Organizers of the event believe it’s also important to encourage youth and adults in artistic endeavors. The festival is sponsored by several groups, including the city of Tahlequah, Northeastern State University, Main Street, the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.
“I see AOTA as a great tool to share all aspects of the arts with youth, from Crayola through to marketing. I have devoted countless hours to youth programs,” said Jim Roaix, a committee member and one of the artists who will be teaching a class at the festival.
Roaix plans to organize an area where kids can come in and try projects in all the mediums, like clay, acrylic, soapstone carving and basket-weaving.
Isaac Porter joined the group because he aspires to inspire young people.
“If I, as a citizen, can sponsor an experiential booth for youth, I’d be interested in that,” Porter said.
Tahlequah High School students have demonstrated and sold art with the guidance of instructor Anthony Amson the past few years, to get an experience being in an art show.
Diversity in music talent ranges from a Russian balalaika orchestra to the blues, folk to jazz and a mandolin orchestra. Performances and demonstrations include ballet, dance and theater, martial arts and Tai Chi by local talent.
“Tahlequah has such a rich history in the arts, and having an annual event like Arts on the Avenue not only supports those local artists but it also brings in guests from around the state to see and experience everything Tahlequah has to offer,” said Mickel Yantz, Cherokee Heritage Museum curator, artist and committee member.
Writers are represented at the event, and all area authors are invited to bring their books and join the fun said Karen Coody Cooper, who heads up the Tahlequah Writers group and was one of several authors at AOTA last summer.
“Since we arrived in Tahlequah in 2008, we have seen a welcome growth in arts development,” said Cooper. “I believe arts enliven and inform us by bringing joy and insight to our lives and communities. A community with active arts is a stronger place because arts activities indicate a growing economy.”
Arts on the Avenue has grown and Tahlequah downtown has improved. Every piece of the development puzzle is an important piece, Cooper said.
A forum of speakers to build artists’ confidence was suggested by Porter, who owns Chapel Books.
“Everyone at AOTA is an artist, waiting to hear something inspiring to discover how to put ink to paper or paint to paper, and realize how that process works for them,” said Porter. “We meet a wealth of people here who are artists and writers in the making. We can encourage them through this event.”
Contact any committee member for more information or online at artsontheave.net.