Chain of Parks Art Festival Considered a Success
By LaCrai Mitchell
Special to the Outlook
Emerging artists, local businesses and art lovers from all over, filled the streets of downtown Tallahassee during the annual LeMoyne Chain of Parks Art Festival.
For 15 years, LeMoyne has partnered with the Tallahassee Chain of Parks to provide the city with a top-notch cultural experience through high-quality art and entertainment.
Kelly Simmons Dozier, festival chair, said that she loves the arts and is excited that she and a team of other people could help bring this amazing art festival to Tallahassee.
“We’re doing this for Tallahassee because Tallahassee deserves this kind of thing,” Dozier said. “I think that our local community is learning the value of this festival and how great it is and so they just keep coming back.”
Hundreds of artists applied online to have their work exhibited in the festival this year but a blind jury of art curators and experts selected only 150 based off of photographs of their art exhibits and the artists’ individual statements.
Ann Kozeliski, the executive director of LeMoyne, said the artists who put forth a special effort to come and exhibit their pieces, bring a positive energy to the festival.
“These artists come from all over the country,” Kozeliski said. “Every artist that creates, (their art) comes from a special place and they’re serious about this.”
Among the featured artists in this year’s festival, was 24-year-old Maya Shae, a senior fine arts student at Florida A&M University.
Shae, a Tallahassee native, said that her art is inspired by the African-American community that has made her who she is.
“I feel particularly proud to represent FAMU and show the community what black excellence (is),” Shae said.
Although she was born in Tallahassee, Shae was raised by her mother’s family in New Jersey and credits her artistic influence to the city street art that she was exposed to as a child.
“I like seeing the ugly side of life,” Shae said. “I like being exposed to different people’s lives—different stories.”
Shae’s favorite work of her own art, A White Man’s Nightmare, tells the powerful message of violence against African-American males through “layers of symbolism and relevance.”
Using a photograph of a 1930 lynching as inspiration, Shae uses her art to depict the lynching of a white Klansman while bystanders turn their backs to the lynching. Among the people in the crowd are Trayvon Martin and Will Ferrell, wearing black hoodies.
Although her piece has received some backlash from social media, Shae said that her goal is to spark a serious conversation.
“I want to create art that is actually important, meaningful [and] I feel like it’s possible for me to change society [with my art].”
In addition to displaying art, the LeMoyne Chain of Parks Art Festival interactively explored Florida history.
In honor of Jacques LeMoyne, the first European artist to sketch what Florida looked like in the 1500s, the festival featured three actors who walked around the festival dressed up as Jacques LeMoyne.
“(We’re) educating people about the history of Tallahassee, of Florida, of art in Florida and so it’s just bringing it all together,” Dozier said.
The festival was a success by the standards of many, including Kozeliski, who maintained that the continuation of the festival is dire to the growth of the city.
“A community is known by its culture,” Kozeliski said. “If Tallahassee wants to continue to grow and be recognized as an integral part of society, our culture needs to reflect that.”