By: Tom Fink | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: September 2018
Previous Art on the Hill events brought works in various mediums from artists across Claremore, Rogers County, and northeast Oklahoma. This year’s event -- rebranded “Art Off the Hill” -- will see the event move from the campus of Rogers State University to just off Will Rogers Boulevard in Ne-Mar Center. Food vendors, live entertainment, and more will be incorporated into this art mingle. Event sponsorship is still being sought to help fun scholarships to Rogers State University. For more information about becoming a sponsor, visit www.facebook.com/ArtOfftheHill.
After taking a hiatus in 2017, a favorite northeast Oklahoma art event will be returning to Rogers County this fall.
Formerly held on campus at Rogers State University in Claremore, the Art on the Hill festival will be held literally just down the road this year, just south of Will Rogers Boulevard in the Ne-Mar Shopping Center, and with the new location comes a new name: Art Off the Hill on Route 66.
“We’re calling it ‘Art Off the Hill’ this year because it’s no longer at Rogers State University, which everyone informally refers to as ‘the hill’,” said Raincrow Art Post owner and one of the organizers Kellie Vann. “It had been held at RSU for several years, but recently, it seemed as though participation and interest (in the event) had dwindled, kind of lost some steam -- it had gone from being an event held outdoors to indoors, and maybe there was a thinking that people might be less inclined to go to the festival on campus if you weren’t already there -- like faculty or staff -- and they didn’t even hold one last year.”
The year off gave event organizers and participants the opportunity to reconsider how to best present the festival to appeal to a broader audience, Vann said.
“So this year, the festival is coming back with a new energy, a new venue, and several new things to see and do, and with this, it’s also received a new brand, i.e., Art Off the Hill,” she said. “With the festival being off-campus and in the downtown (Claremore) area, it will be more visible, more ‘out in the open’ where people just driving by will see it happening and be more inclined to come see what it’s all about. Not only that, but with Ne-Mar already being a shopping center, there already will be foot traffic, so the people already here for the day will get to see the festival and the people coming to the festival will get the chance to do some shopping if they like -- one thing will compliment the other.”
Traditionally, RSU’s Art on the Hill has showecased high quality original works of art by local and regional established artists, as well as rising talents, high school students and others from across the region and northeast Oklahoma. This year, the festival is being held at the same time as the Cherokee Art Market, with the overlap creating, as Vann describes it, “a kind of Route 66 art crawl from Catoosa to Claremore.”
But what can attendees expect from the rebranded festival?
“As at previous festivals, people can look forward to seeing original art from local artists and artists from across the state in various mediums -- paintings of course, but there will also be some crafts as well -- pottery, probably some wood carvings, those type of things,” Vann said, “but in addition to the wide selection of art, there will be live entertainment, we’re looking at some food vendors, although there are restaurants and places to eat, already at Ne-Mar, and more.”
Among the “more” will be a play written by Steve Martin entitled “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” performed by local actors, in which Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein debate which of them is the greater genius -- Picasso for his creativity or Einstein because of his mathematic mind.
“We’re looking forward to the play -- it’s got a cast of eight actors, and is very entertaining,” Vann said. “Plus, we’ll be hosting live music, probably some local high school jazz bands and regional musicians, as well as putting on a fashion show, with the help of some of the clothing boutiques at Ne-Mar and around Claremore. There will be students from Rogers State (University) serving as models and Lavish Hair Studio will be helping with hair and make up.”
Vann said she feels Art Off the Hill is a much-needed festival, particularly in the Rogers County area, as the region has long been in need of regular art and culture events.
As much as Vann espouses her own apprecation for the arts, she also emphasizes the need for sponsorship for the festival.
“We’re always in need of sponsors, and there are several levels at which a person can become a sponsor,” she said. “Each level of sponsorship certainly offers something different in return for what’s being contributed, and it can go from $100 all the way up to $10,000, the highest level of which would be our ‘presenting sponsor’ which allows the sponsor to have their name on a sign out near the street, saying you, as a sponsor, ‘present Art Off the Hill’.”
“Not only do sponsors help the festival and raise awareness of art in the community, but it raises money to give towards scholarships for students entering the Bachelor of Fine Arts program up the hill at RSU,” she said. “We’ve got a goal of raising $5,000 this year through sponsorships -- a goal which we haven’t reached yet, so we’re very, very much hoping for additional sponsors to step forward and make a difference.”
So, whether you’re an afficianado of artwork, local musicians, live theater, food, or all of these, Art Off the Hill off Route 66 in Clarmore will offer something for both the casual and serious art-lover.
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