Celebration of the Arts Commemorates Creativity

Photo courtesy of www.celebrationofthearts.net
Photo courtesy of www.celebrationofthearts.net

The fourth annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) took place on Saturday, Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. The warm weather and sunny afternoon brought droves of art and culture enthusiasts, students, community members and tourists to the event.

COTA strives to support local artists in the Hudson Valley including fine artists, performers, photographers, craft-makers, musicians, dancers and writers. It originated in 2007 when Noelle Kimbell, at 15 years old, had a dream to bring artists of all disciplines together to encourage networking experiences and to celebrate the significance of art and culture in the community. Kimbell presented her idea to the Arts Community, a non-profit performing arts organization based in New Paltz. Logistics Coordinator Peggy Paparone was greatly impressed by her presentation; thusly COTA began with its first year at Hasbrouck Park.

Since its creation four years ago, COTA has provided art education to the community by exposing the diversity of artistic expression. It has also created relationships and opportunities between artists. There were around two hundred participants at this year’s event.

Fine Art and Event Coordinator Melanie Cronin received positive feedback from artists and attendees. She said she believes COTA fosters a creative and relaxed atmosphere for some of the “finest talents in the region.”

“Art and culture are instrumental in archiving history and connecting people in the present day,” said Cronin. “I strongly believe in creating a platform where artists of all disciplines and skill levels feel comfortable in expressing themselves.”

Several cultures were represented throughout the day. There were musical performances by the Mid-Hudson Mexican Folkloric Dance Group and the Indian classical dancers, Natyaniketan. The Shoe String Band played Appalachian fiddle tunes, Carter Family songs and covers of classics by old country legends like Charlie Poole and Hank Williams.

Many artists had booths where their works were being sold. Items on sale included ceramic pieces, stone engravings, paintings, sculptures and hand-knitted accessories and clothing.

Julie Gundersen, second-year art major, thought COTA was a great way to bring together people who enjoy art. She said her favorite part was the fine arts tent which displayed works with  a variety of subject matters. Cartoons, portraits, psychedelic, expressionist and realism were just a few styles that stuck out to Gundersen.

“I’m a fine arts major myself so I really enjoyed getting a glance at someone else’s works and ideas who are local to the area,” she said. “By the end of the day I had so many business cards of different artists to draw inspiration from or to just revisit and admire again in the future. I really enjoyed this experience and hope to see another celebration of the arts again soon.”

Planning for next year’s event has already begun. The 5th Annual COTA is slated for the Saturday during Columbus Day weekend in 2011.