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42nd Stillwater Arts Festival displays the local art community

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Artist Don Tran working on his silk embroidery at Stillwater Arts Festival Friday, April 19th, 2019.

Downtown Stillwater acts as the creative epicenter for the city.

From the Stillwater Community Center, to the Prairie Arts Center, to the Hazel Modella Art Gallery on Main Street, the arts in Stillwater are on full display.

A variety of art forms were showcased for the community in the 42nd Stillwater Arts Festival hosted Friday and Saturday.

“The main thing is that we’re just excited to be able to do the festival and expose people to art, maybe expose people to things they haven’t seen,” Mike Staubus, a board member of the Arts and Humanities Council, said.

Two stages set up at the event to showcased live music as well as demonstrations of stage fighting. The main draw of the event were the more than 80 artists booths selling artisanal works of glassworks, copper animals, jewelry and classic canvas works.

One of the vendors, Stillwater resident Cathy Southwick, said she feels the town's art community is like family. 

“Stillwater is my hometown and it is nice to be here on Main Street surrounded by all this beautiful art,” Southwick said. “This is what makes an art festival. I’ve done art festivals off and on for years and it becomes a community, it’s like a family… One of my greatest pleasures and to me, a real flattering thing is when someone wants to trade a piece of art with me.”

Cassie Pickens, who partnered with the Wings of Hope Family Crisis Service, was doing a live sculpture painting drawing inspiration from the diversity of the art around her and from the community.

“I think it is showing our community each other, we’re able to kind of get together and celebrate what we do.” Pickens said. “We get to appreciate each other for the different types of art.”

For some, the Stillwater Arts Festival is their first experience with the art community of Stillwater and the wide variety of mediums practiced by its members. Chris Ramsay, a 3D design professor at Oklahoma State University, feels that as a college town, it is important for students to explore this community.

“It is essential, it is a college community and also there are a lot of people who practice a wide range of crafts and various art forms in the community outside of the university so it is a great opportunity as well to mesh both cultural dynamics there and celebrate what we have here in Stillwater,” Ramsay said.

At its core, the Stillwater Arts Festival was designed around the diverse art community in Stillwater and meant to show that to the people who might not know about it. Pickens recognized this.

“That the arts are so important to everything,” Pickens said. “Art is everything, it is interpretation, it is marketing its expression and I think from my perspective it is a form communication that a lot of people can’t express feelings or thoughts with words and it is really magical when someone can communicate something just through color or shape or an image or even performance. I think people need to recognize that.”

That perspective is what Staubus wanted to help share with the community.

“Art is all around us and sometimes we just don’t notice it and so we just want to expose people to it and have them remember that art is your life,” Staubus said. “You can make your life into art. Design is everywhere, we design our lives and we create each day, whether that is doing actual performance, visual art or the way you conduct business. If you do it in a creative way, you’re probably going to do it in a more interesting way and an original way and that’s how things happen.”

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