Story and Photos by
Linda Costa Cheranichit
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Sharing Art at the Orlando Fiesta Fest
As a local artist to Pinellas County the thought of going to Orlando to represent our Arts Coast felt quite daunting, even if exciting. The idea of sharing my personal experience in our arts community with Orlando’s Fiesta in the Park audience of potential tourists to our area felt natural.
I can often be seen cheering, supporting or advocating for our phenomenal talented artists who collectively create our Pinellas County arts culture. I capture our artists through my light painting photography, shining a light on their talents. I support them in community action and advocacy work, and guide them in preparing for grants through my consulting work.
It was an honor and pleasure to share my genuine passion for our artists and creative spaces with our future visitors. I looked forward to the experience of an exciting festival weekend where I could be a part of inspiring new visitors and art collectors to discover our area.
We have such a stellar arts community in Pinellas County! How could I do it justice? We hold so many fantastic talents, busy crafting murals, shaping metal, spinning clay, whirling onstage, singing our songs, filming our dreams, designing glass, painting up storms.
How could I possibly express the magnitude of all of the diverse talents that shine here? What could I say to our Orlando neighbors that could translate all the beauty and wonder we have on our Arts Coast?
It was a beautiful hot weekend in early November, with storms blowing wind and water sporadically to cool us before the next heatwave set in. We set up our tent next to the booth for Visit St. Pete Clearwater. We shared our collective information about the Arts Coast, and launched our new Arts Navigator tool.
The QR code and website we offered our audience led participants through a quiz asking them to describe their dream vacation. The results of the quiz lead them to unique results for each participant, and sharing resources on the best beaches, hotels, galleries and events in our area during their stay.
We had tables filled with fun coloring pages and supplies to color a design of a Gulf Coast sun, setting behind a pier. We colored with the children who were drawn to our activity, offering families a break from the heat and a bit of quiet relaxation as they dreamed of our peaceful shores and stunning sunsets.
The festival was busy and bustling, but the weekend by the lake was charming. Baby ducklings bounced together in the grass, protected by mama ducks and a troupe of good neighbor geese. Parents relaxed and smiled, sipping on their lattes as children chased the fluffy ducks and giggled at how cute they were. Latin music blasted from a local radio station booth, lined up along a closed and oak-covered block with endless booths of vendors and Orlando artisans.
Hundreds of people passed by in droves, and the fountain sprayed beautifully all weekend, creating rainbows as the bright sun shone through it at the center of downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola. Echoing the light and water was a massive Rainbow bandshell centered on the edge of the lake which was surrounded by beautiful black and white swans coasting gracefully on its placid surface.
Fellow Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Emily Stehle and her partner Michael drove 90 minutes to the event to be our featured musical performers. They delighted their biggest audience to date, playing their whimsical and cheerful ukulele sounds from under a literal Rainbow, their joyful music resonating from the massive bandshell that faces the gorgeous lake.
As the event unfolded, I engaged families and children, sharing my favorite things about being an artist and parent living in our Arts Coast. I especially loved telling them what I think is the best kept local secret of our area – Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo FL.
Nestled right in between St. Pete and Clearwater, and only 15 minutes from our beaches, it surprises me how many locals still don’t know about it. I love it for many reasons, and I figured it was the perfect place to illustrate all the best things our area has to offer on a short fun-filled trip. It is where the Creative Pinellas galleries are located, sharing world class art exhibitions featuring Pinellas County grant-winning artists year round and free to the public, inside the Florida Botanical Gardens.
Taking in our exceptional artists is my favorite part of a truly full free day out with the family. I like starting the experience with a long nature walk around and through the Florida Botanical Gardens, exploring a phenomenal collection of lush tropical plants from around the globe with my curious kids.
I invited young families who were considering taking a trip to our beaches to explore the full complex, telling them about the fascinating experience within our Heritage Village. It is a world of its own within the Pinewood Complex, a place where you can travel back in Pinellas County history through preserved historical buildings, and even shop at an old Country Store.
As a single parent and artist on a budget, the complex is one of my most cherished spaces to spend the day with my family and friends. I often bring art supplies and craft on their many picnic tables when I want to create outside in nature. I love slowly exploring our natural splendor, our creative local culture and our local history all in one place.
As I colored beautiful sunsets with children in the hot, breezy Orlando weather, I chatted with our visitors about our colorful, wild, crafty, family-friendly and expressive community in Pinellas County, feeling grateful to be included as one of our artists. To be supported and featured as one of the talents in our area by our local arts nonprofit Creative Pinellas and its partner in the arts Visit St. Pete Clearwater was a deep honor.
It was a pleasure sharing my love for what we treasure here on the Arts Coast. I hope our future visitors enjoy their stay with us as much as I enjoyed sharing my passion for our community with them.
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