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Winter Arts Festival

A weekend of art and inspiration ... (and holiday shopping!)

Admittedly, visual art has always seemed to go over my head, especially contemporary art pieces. It was only a few years back that I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more to get. My frustration with art originated from a situation more or less like this: “This painting makes me feel kind of sad.” “Why?” “I don’t know … it just does.” As someone who has always prided himself on his ability to communicate well, the ineffability of art seemed to be a real blow to my ego.

My first year off at college, however, I had an art major friend of mine sum it up for me rather nicely. She claimed the goal of art isn’t to trigger a logical response, but rather an affective one. It’s like music. No one expects you to be able to explain why a certain song makes you feel a certain way. That’s the real talent of an artist - to be able to create universal feeling from nothing more than colors or clay or carvings or photographs. I made my peace with art; you could say I’ve even developed a great appreciation for it.  Lucky for all art enthusiasts, the Winter Arts Festival is just around the corner.

The Winter Arts Festival is a phenomenal opportunity for the community to visit with local fine artists and artisans, and maybe even squeeze in some holiday shopping. The event is being hosted at Holiday Valley Lodge (a gorgeous enough location to rival the beautiful art that promises to be within) over two days, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21-22.  Local artists plying their craft this year include: Mikel Wintermantel, Barbara Fox, Tom Martin, Elliott Hutten, Darlene Allen, Lisa Yohon, Jennifer Acklin, Lindsey Ahrens, John Balacki, Judson Brown, Charlotte Cappellino, Lisa Conklin, Al Dornisch, Dewey Fladd, Theresa Heinz, Keith McKale, Deborah Moyer, Ellen Paquette, Carolyn Raine, Eileen Weishan, Michael Weishan, and Robin Zefers Clark, just to name a few. 

With such a wide spread of artists, you can bet that nearly all of the major disciplines will be represented. This year’s festival expects to showcase paintings, pottery, photographs, textiles, jewelry, and much more. Both days will have live musical performances to augment the atmosphere of the gathering. There will even be activities for children; perhaps you can start them on the creative path of inspiration and culture.

This event is put on by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council (CCAC), an organization dedicated to the promotion of local art and artists. The Winter Arts Festival has come to replace the Routes to Art Holiday Sale as the Arts Council’s major event of the year. The participants this year may not necessarily fit that old “starving artist” stereotype, but nonetheless, your participation in this festival ensures that these fine people get to continue doing what they love.

Are you an artist yourself? Now is the time to showcase your talent! The Winter Arts Festival is open to any artist or artisan in the Western New York and Southern Tier areas. At this time, the Arts Council is still accepting new vendors, so anyone interested should visit their website at www.myartscouncil.net to see guidelines and registration information. The more, the merrier!

This gathering really is a great way to help support our local artists. These people produce works that help define our community and our regional identity. Everyone is encouraged to attend this festival to appreciate the labors of their love. Besides, there are very few Christmas gifts that say “refinement” and “good taste” like a piece of local art does.  I implore you to go to this year’s Winter Arts Festival and remind you that real art appreciation means never having to answer the question, “Why?”