by Christianne Clarkin
Art has played a significant role in my life. As someone not gifted in artistic expression (I prefer stick figures), I have grown to appreciate the intricacies of art and the nuanced stories that each work exhibits. Close friends and family members have worked in various artistic mediums, which has encouraged me to develop an appreciation and understanding of their work. While the creative process means something different to everyone, each artwork shares the commonality of expressing a unique vision.
A friend and I stumbled across The New Art Festival (TNAF) one sunny Saturday in June of 2012, and we have been hooked ever since. For two days in June, quiet Central Park in the Glebe becomes a hub of inspired thinkers, artists, and creators talking to appreciative community members. I began believing in the non-commercial and community-oriented vision of this grassroots organization as a festival volunteer in 2015. I bought my first piece of original glass art in 2017 as a gift for a friend. From glass to wood, pottery to painting, jewellery to fibre arts, TNAF brings together a community of dedicated artists from Ottawa, the Outaouais and beyond to share with us a sampling of their diverse works in a friendly outdoor setting.
Year after year, many tweaks to the festival have resulted in the vibrant spectacle of sound and colour that it is today. From its humble grassroots beginnings, TNAF has retained its not-for-profit vision. This low-carbon-footprint festival remains local, community-oriented, welcoming and accessible to all. Local businesses and art patrons graciously donate numerous awards to participating artists. I am honoured to be working behind the scenes this year at TNAF, an organization that I firmly believe in. I can attest to the many hours of preparation that go into ensuring every detail – artist booths, food vendors, maps, washrooms, drinking water stations, and a separate children’s corner seamlessly appears in the park.
The act of creating art can be an isolating endeavour. Working in the arts is unlike the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday workweek many of us have. In my opinion, celebrating and supporting our artistic community is invaluable. Each artist has a story and for one weekend in June, Central Park becomes the storyteller. With nearly 200 participants annually, TNAF offers the opportunity to meet the artists and encourages festival-goers to wander, ask questions and celebrate local art. Ottawa has a rich artistic history, and there are many ways to be involved. Whether you are an artist or a volunteer, a collector or even just curious about art, this free event is open to all and is an excellent way to become engaged in the local art scene.
TNAF allows the meeting of visionaries, showcases beauty and enhances community ties, all amongst the picturesque trees and pond of Central Park in the Glebe. The arts come alive when you walk past the nearly 200 pop-up tents and interact with the artists within. You will see neighbours and families, children and students, politicians and local business owners all there for the same reason: to appreciate and support artists and the community. Most importantly, within each white tent is an artist with a story to tell, someone who wants to share a piece of themselves with you. This exchange might enhance the way in which you see the world, if only for a weekend.
This year, The New Art Festival takes place on June 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in Central Park, the Glebe. Come and celebrate Ottawa’s original, highly anticipated, juried outdoor art exhibit. New and returning artists alike will enthusiastically greet you. There will be local food vendors, music and performance art. Feel free to stop by the information booth to say hello. Bring your children, parents, partners, friends and even your dogs. Above all, bring your enthusiasm and inner art appreciator. And like me, you will want to return for years to come.
Visit www.newartfestival.ca for more information. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Christianne Clarkin is an Ottawa resident and art lover who is The New Art Festival’s communications coordinator and administrative assistant.