“What is art? Elkmont Festival to spotlight variety of creative experiences”

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Elkmont,AL-Nailing down a standard definition of how or why something qualifies as “art” can be a never-ending endeavor. It’s subjective, this concept of art.

The Merriam-Webster Concise Encyclopedia, describes art as, “a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination…art encompasses diverse media such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts, photography, and installation…This should by no means be taken as a rigid scheme, however, particularly in cultures in which everyday objects are painstakingly constructed and imbued with meaning.”

It’s this open-ended approach to the art world that has inspired Preston Pylant, of Elkmont, to establish the Hilltop Arts Society in an effort to encourage area students to embrace all manner of artistic expression.

“My main goal is to provide students here in the northern part of Limestone County with exposure to art – photography, painting, spoken word performances, music – all different forms of art,” Pylant said. No rigid schemes here.

The Elkmont High School graduate credits a small theatre program at the school for awakening his interest in the arts. He said during high school, he went straight from the football field to theatre auditions each year.

However, Pylant said, that program is no longer in place and not many other artistic opportunities exist for area students, either.

“All the colleges around here have great art and theatre programs with scholarships available,” he said. “But students don’t have any high school programs to help them build a portfolio to lead into,” applying for art and theatre scholarships.

Pylant recently approached the Elkmont Town Council with a proposal for a downtown festival. He won enthusiastic approval for what he hopes will be the first of many events aimed at drawing the community together in celebration of the arts.

The Hilltop Arts Festival is slated for Saturday, Nov. 3 in downtown Elkmont. The event covers the spectrum of artistic genres with live music, poetry readings and all manner of artists, artisans and crafters.

Some 30 vendors from across the Tennessee Valley will be on hand to sell and display a myriad of arts and crafts including painting, pottery, photography, handmade soaps & jewelry, woodworking and more.

A Kid Zone, sponsored by the Elkmont Town Council, will provide fun, creative activities for children and Circle Motion Hoops of Huntsville will help keep things exciting for young and young-at-heart alike.

Henna artist Michelle Liquori-Ross will offer temporary body art education and application at her Hilltop booth. Liquori-Ross said such festivals always prove fun and interesting.

“I enjoy the energy of the event,” she said. “People ask excellent questions. This is fun and it keeps me fascinated with the conversation each person brings to my table. I enjoy providing a unique, artistic experience for those who seek me out.”

Admission to the Festival is free and includes a full-day of live music including Emerald Hammon & Aly Mitchell, Taylor McLain, Mary Crowell, The Mothership Connection, Shane Wilson, Ghost Train, Bonner Black, The Barnstormers, Amy McCarley, Mary Justice Lucas, and Jim Parker.

In conjunction with the Art Festival, Creative Canvas of Athens, will offer two sessions of painting classes in the Elkmont Depot. These sessions are $35 per person and participants come away with a 16 x 20 canvas. Pre-registration is available by calling 256-497-5934 or via e-mail at yourcreativecanvas@hotmail.com.

The performance genre changes at 6 p.m. when the Red Caboose opens up for an open mic poetry session with special guest poets Karolina Lamarz Manko and Ingrid Marie. Admission for the poetry reading is $10 general admission and $5 for students.

For more information about the Hilltop Arts Festival or to get involved in the Hilltop Arts Society, contact Preston Pylant at hilltop.arts@yahoo.com or on Facebook at the Hilltop Arts Society community page.

Courtesy of Tanjie Nash Schrimsher

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