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Inverness Festival of the Arts brings Fine Arts and Community Together Nov. 20-21

By Diane Bedard Posted on November 3, 2021

The Inverness Festival of the Arts is the longest-running juried art festival in Citrus County, Florida. This fine arts show will celebrate its 50th anniversary by returning to a committee-run festival in the historic downtown courthouse area on November 20-21, 2021.

Since 1971, the Inverness Fine Arts Festival has been a beacon of fine arts in the area where visitors and residents enjoyed walking from artist to artist to see what creations tickled their fancy. For 2021, local arts groups have joined the festival to bring a community-based experience that highlights fine art created locally, regionally, and nationally.

Local arts groups that will be a part of this year’s festival include Rainbow Springs Art, The Valerie Players theatre group, and the Citrus Watercolor Society.

What to Expect at the Inverness Festival of the Arts

This two-day festival is a signature event for the city, bringing fifty fine artists to historic downtown for visitors to explore and purchase art in the cool fall weather that makes this location ideal. This year’s Festival is free and open to the public.

Artists are attending from Inverness, Florida, and throughout the United States. The slower pace of this art festival provides enough activity to attract quality fine artists and enough space between shoppers to encourage relationships to form between the artists and potential buyers.

Inverness Festival of the Arts 50th anniversary returns to Courthouse square. Image by Michael Pate.

Peter R. Gerbert has been endorsed by the Florida Wildlife Federation and has displayed his Florida Wildlife artwork at the Inverness Festival of the Arts for ten years. He said, “Participating in this show since 2010, it has become a favorite.  Winning several nice awards and a few Purchase Awards from Stumpknockers, I ended up with some framed prints in the restaurant!  If I have a good day at the show, I treat myself to a crab leg dinner there!” 

Peter is looking forward to seeing his regular collectors again, as many of them have become good friends over the years.

Richard Franklin is coming to the show for the first time from Texas.  When asked about why he applied for this show, Franklin said, “I really appreciate that the show is free and open to the public. I really love when art is open and available to everyone.”

One of the Festival’s artists from previous years is shown with his sculpture. Image by Michael Pate.

That is part of the mission of the Inverness Festival of the Arts: to bring people and art together. This year’s festival offers plenty of opportunities for that.

Art for Everyone: Bring the Whole Family

Bring your family to the Inverness Festival of the Arts. There is plenty to do for all ages. Image by Michael Pate.

Artists will be available to demonstrate their creative processes and discuss their pieces. Local arts-based businesses have been invited to be involved.

Children’s activities will include face painting and rock painting.

Performing arts are part of the festival for 2021, with live music by Cal Morris on violin Saturday and Billy Buchanan bringing his blues guitar on Sunday. The musicians will be at the fountain plaza.

Students at Citrus County schools have been invited to display their art in the School Zone for both days. Additionally, the Lecanto School for the Arts will show their animation talents on the Valerie Theatre’s big screen on Sunday, November 21.

Visitors to the show can see artists who work in clay, digital art, drawing, fiber, jewelry, metal, mixed media, photography, sculpture, watercolor, and wood.

There will also be snacks to round out the festival experience by Maw n Paw’s Ole Time Treats, D’s Nuts, and InVibe shakes and teas. Festivalgoers are encouraged to enjoy a meal at one of the many downtown restaurants.

Snack vendors will be at the festival. Later, enjoy a meal at one of the many downtown restaurants. Image by Michael Pate.

Best of all, the art displays are located in the courthouse streets this year, making it easy for those who walk and those who wheel to get up close and personal with the exciting fine art that will be on display.

“In past years, the artists have set up on the courthouse lawn, and we became aware that it was difficult for some patrons to move around on the uneven grass,” Pamela Zeljak shared, “so we moved the tents to the streets allowing for better movement and access for show attendees.”

Creating a Public Arts Program in Inverness

It began with various local arts groups and residents asking for more integration of art in Inverness.

The City of Inverness began working with Pamela Zeljak last year to create a Public Arts Plan. The first major festival in this plan is the celebration of the 50th Inverness Festival of the Arts around the historic Citrus County Courthouse November 20-21.

The City of Inverness began working with Pamela Zeljac to create a Public Arts Plan. Image by Stefano Ferrario from Pixabay

The City of Inverness wanted to return the festival to community management after running it for two years. A group was formed with five volunteers.

Pamela Zeljak moved to Florida from Pittsburg in 2003. She has thirteen years of experience in arts administration, strategic planning, and project management in the Leesburg and Ocala areas.

“I am not an artist,” Pamela explains about her tenure on the Fine Arts for Ocala Board, “Each Board member performs a different function, allowing us to get in the trenches and experience all parts of running a quality Fine Art show.”

In March of 2020, she started Civic Icon Arts to fulfill the creative vision of small and mid-sized communities, organizations, and businesses and assist them in setting the course for community pride, civic engagement, artist support, public health, and economic growth through Public Art and Creative Placemaking.

student art
Citrus County students will display their art in the School Zone for both days. Image by Michael Pate.

Working with Eric Williams, City Manager, and Liz Fernley, Marketing Manager, as well as the Inverness City Council, great things are being done to organize the many arts groups and gain public input into how to best engage in the arts to meet the needs of its residents.

Help Guide Inverness’ Public Arts Program

In order to determine what public art projects are most wanted for its program, there is a survey online that residents are encouraged to take.

Additionally, surveys will be available at the festival. “Not everyone is comfortable with computer surveys,” Pamela shares.

The Inverness Public Arts Program report should be completed in December and it will be presented to the City Council at one of its upcoming public meetings.

The Inverness Festival of the Arts offers visitors a slower pace, where artists can take time to visit with patrons. Image by Michael Pate.

Meet the Muralist at the Inverness Festival of the Arts and Watch him Paint!

As the first project in the City’s new Public Art program, Inverness’ City Council approved a mural to be painted on the west wall of Coach’s Pub and Eatery at 114 West Main Street. It will be completed during the festival!

“The process of choosing the mural artist was quite extensive, from preparing a limited call to artists, choosing from three shortlisted concepts and then choosing the finalist, it was all done by committee,” Pamela explained.

Christian Stanley is a fine artist who lives in the Orlando area. His winning submission features bikers on the trail, the water tower, the Old Courthouse, and a bass jumping from the lake.

Christian will begin the mural a week before the Fine Arts Festival, creating the larger areas after preparing the wall. During the Festival, he will be finishing the mural. Festivalgoers are encouraged to interact with him while he is painting.

2020’s Best of Show by Jordan Shapot is seen as background to this year’s Festival ad. The title is Love with No Strings (or Lasers) Attached.

Inverness Festival of the Arts seeks to bring together the Arts and You

Judges Nan Smith and Daniel Stepp, both acclaimed artists and professors from Gainesville, Florida will determine which of the 50 artists juried into this year’s show will win the 8 awards totaling $6,500. 

Last year’s Best in Show winner and local artist, Jordan Shapot, will be back to defend his title. Jordan’s category is painting but awards are open to any medium. 

“Working with the City of Inverness is a real joy because everybody wants to see it be the best it can be and is willing to do their part to make it great,” Pamela said, “It is our goal to bring the arts community together – arts businesses, organizations, artists, and the cultural arts. We hope to make people think of Inverness as a city that values art.”

The goal of the Inverness Festival of the Arts is to bring together people and art. Image by Michael Pate.

Inverness Festival of Arts at-a-Glance

  • Juried Fine Art Show November 20 -21, 2021 – 10 am to 5 pm both days
  • Located on Courthouse square in downtown Inverness
  • Free to attend, free parking
  • 50 Artists displaying
  • Live mural painting
  • Student Art on display both days, Student Animation on Saturday
  • Theater Groups and Live Music

More information at InvernessFestivaloftheArts.com

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