By Sean V. Lehosit
The Westgate Neighbors Association (WNA) is geared up for its second annual Arts in the Park, ready to showcase the musical and artistic talent of local residents.
This year’s event is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 at Westgate Park. The festival is no longer month-long this year, according to Patti Von Niessen, event coordinator.
“The time that goes into setting up and tearing down every weekend is a lot to ask of people. With us hosting the event for just a single day, we can make it more cost effective, while making it a bigger impact,” Von Niessen said.
Organizers said this event is a platform for neighborhood artists to demonstrate their talents, which range from music to painting and wood carving.
“Our goal was to become more visible as an artistically diverse community and to present our neighborhood as a welcoming place to live,” Von Niessen said.
Von Niessen recalls being approached by an elderly woman last year, who thanked her for organizing the event. The feedback mirrored the feelings of other residents she encountered.
“She told me she used to enjoy coming down to the park to listen to the summer music series years ago, and had missed it very much,” she said.
The new schedule allowed WNA members to concentrate and expand the entertainment, according to Von Niessen. In addition to art exhibitions and concerts, the event will feature the spoken word.
“Dr. Jim Parsons, who is a great supporter of the neighborhood, has always advocated for having public speaking in the park. His idea is based on the Hyde Park model, where anyone can get up on a platform to speak,” she said.
The “speaker’s corner” will provide residents an opportunity to recite poetry, act out a scenes from a play, give a lecture or other forms of self expression.
“It’s very casual, very inclusive, and to us, a very unique addition to an arts event,” Von Niessen said.
Music will be played on two stages. The main stage features the Heartbreak Orchestra, Sandwiched By Drones and Honeywood on an open air stage near the center of the festival.
A second stage featuring acoustic music by The Hamilton-Donavan Quintet, Rich Murtaugh and Julian Murphy and Brian Bainbridge will be on the new patio at the enclosed shelter house.
“This will be a big outdoor event, but the addition of the enclosed shelter house is really allowing us to expand and to utilize the new features of the shelter house,” she said.
Children have more to look forward to this year, Von Niessen said. The WNA planned free face painting, sugar skull workshops and arranged for the Columbus Division of Fire to bring out its Safe House. The Columbus SWAT team, canine and bike patrol units will also appear.
WNA members will celebrate the new mural installed on the west-facing wall of the racquetball courts. At last year’s Arts in the Park, local artists began “200 Children Playing in Westgate Park” as their contribution to the city’s bicentennial.
“We hope everyone will take the time to view the mural. It’s something we’re very proud to have as a permanent piece of public art in Westgate Park,” Von Niessen said.
For information and a full music schedule, visit www.westgateneighbors.org.