Ocala’s first ARToberfest gathers a cornucopia of talent

Photo description: “We’re All Mad Here” by Jade Amber, Oil painting, 24×36”, at Marion Cultural Alliance

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Posted October 7, 2022 | By Julie Garisto

After a near miss from Hurricane Ian, a seize-the-day energy fills the air like the early-fall breezes that followed in the wake of the storm.

And as we count our blessings and donate to causes that help those whose lives were affected by the storm, Ocala-area residents can also take advantage of the pleasant weather to celebrate ARToberfest, a new event series that provides diverse entertainment and educational offerings from North Central Florida-based painters, sculptors, photographers, writers, musicians, dancers and other creatives and

File photo of exhibit at Marion Cultural Alliance. [Meagan Gumpert Photography]


“This is our first-ever ARToberfest,” effused Jaye Baillie, executive director of the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA), which is based at the Brick City Center for the Arts in downtown Ocala.

“For our inaugural event, we pulled together local art leaders and we’ve been planning this since early spring. It has a really simple mission: to showcase our arts and cultural assets in this community. Also, it’s an invitation for residents and art tourists to explore and experience all that we have to offer,” Baillie said.

From the Appleton Museum of Art’s “Treasures from Aztlán: Hispanic Women’s Voices” (Oct. 8, 11:30 a.m.) to local theater shows, galleries and studio tours, ARToberfest allows residents to appreciate a wide range of cultural offerings and reveal how easy it is to access local visual art, music and performance for the community at large.

“It’s like the official kickoff of our arts and cultural season,” Baille said. “All of our organizations are back, from the Ocala Civic Theatre to Spoken Word Ocala to the symphony (Ocala Symphony Orchestra) and FAFO (the annual Fine Arts For Ocala art show), we just kick it into high gear in October and this is a way for us to really spotlight all that we have going on.”

The consensus among Baillie and other arts organizers was that there are so many things going on, it’s difficult to keep track, especially in October. They needed a way to make it all more accessible.

“I don’t think our community and others in the region have ever seen it packaged together in one schedule,” she said. “There is indeed something for everybody.”

October art shows, performances, talks and other culture-flavored event options have been aggregated into a massive listing available at mcaocala.org/artober-fest. A snappy logo has also been created to help brand the event series with the tagline “Ocala’s Community-wide Exploration of the Arts.”

Among the listings will be MCA’s own art show this weekend. On Friday, Oct. 7, the MCA will debut “Through the Looking Glass,” its juried exhibition for October. Best of Show wins a $250 VISA gift card; first place, a $150 VISA gift card; and second place, a $100 VISA gift card.

The art show also commemorates and provides a prelude to the 15th annual “Applaud the Arts; A Whimsical Wonderland,” presented the following night at the Reilly Arts Center. MCA’s annual celebration of local arts organizations and community art leaders gathers arts stakeholders and patrons to announce cultural grants and arts awards from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8.

A “Mad Hatter’s Bourbon & Tea VIP Party” gets the party started in the NOMA Black Box at the Reilly Arts Center, with libations, souvenirs and artful mingling.

At 6 p.m. on Oct. 13, the Marion Theatre presents “Grindhouse Cinema,” hosted by Teddy Sykes, Mark Sykuta and Stefan Meisse. The event features the films of German director Olaf Ittenbach.

Free lectures and exhibits and the live creation of a new mural will be featured throughout October in commemoration of “The Water and Wildlife of Ocklawaha” at Fort King Presbyterian Church (read more about it in the Sept. 30 issue of the Gazette).

NOMA Gallery has a show timed perfectly for Day of the Dead and Halloween titled “Life & Death” opening this weekend. (Read about one of the exhibition’s artists, Michelle Rhodes, in this week’s issue of the Gazette.)

“We hope to encourage residents and tourists to explore the arts,” Baillie offered.

“ARToberfest also commemorates National Arts and Humanities Month,” she added. “We’ll have a resolution that we send to City Hall, declaring October as National Arts and Humanities Month in Ocala, Florida.”



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