Pensacola, Florida
Thursday April 19th 2018


Not Just Another Arts Festival

Pensacola Museum of Art Celebrates Creative Spirit
by Jennie McKeon

Who wouldn’t enjoy an afternoon in the park soaking up culture by looking at beautiful works of art?

Art in the Park will be held at Seville Square from Saturday, May 14 to Sunday, May 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Before PMA created Art in the Park, Pensacola’s spring arts festival used to be in East Hill and run by the former Arts Council.

“When the Arts Council dissolved, the Museum of Art felt there was still a need for a spring festival since the fall Great Gulf Coast Art Festival is so popular and successful,” said Sonya Davis, director of PMA in an e-mail interview. “We modeled our art festival to be more like GGCAF–juried at Seville Square.”

Even though the event is only in its second year, the estimated attendance is thousands. PMA has added to the event art cars, a popular medium, which uses working automobiles as art.

“This year we will have art cars in the park,” Davis said. “Art cars are drivable works of art cars that have been modified to be wild and crazy sculptures. It’s a national phenomenon. There’ll be fun for the whole family with the inauguration of our art car display.”

You can’t have an arts festival without celebrating the more traditional forms of art such as sculpture and painting. Artists featured in Art in the Park submitted slides of their work and were juried by arts professionals. Applications came from across the county, and 120 were chosen for the event.

Lou-Mitchell Courtney, of Pensacola, will be participating in Art in the Park for the first time. Courtney says she has been an artist forever, but has been working with clay for the past seven years.
Courtney creates art that is both functional and beautiful. With the help of woodworker John King, Courtney created ELEMENTS Architectural Art Forms, a full-service firm that fabricates art for the home such as: handmade sinks, murals, fireplaces, fountains, sconces and original art tiles.

In her sculptural pieces, you can see her inspiration stems from earth and nature.

“I find inspiration in all things,” Courtney said in an e-mail interview. “The many faces of nature above and below water, geometric patterns and the qualities that make us human: bravery, hope, perseverance in adversity, kindness and of course, love.”

For Mary Jean Henke of Birmingham, Ala., art is addictive.

“Many things inspire me to create art,” Henke said in an e-mail interview. “It’s as though I don’t really have a choice, I just have to paint. It’s what makes each day exciting for me. I can say things with color that I can’t say any other way. Painting for me is a way of reaching out and connecting with others on a personal level.”

This will be Henke’s first Art in the Park, but since she participated in GGCAF last fall, she is familiar with her surroundings.

“It would be hard to say what I like best about Pensacola,” Henke said. “Seville Square would top the list, as well as some of the great restaurants, and of course, a walk on the beach.”

Henke has been painting for 25 years. She began as a realistic watercolorist, but for the past six years she has been painting abstracts using acrylic and mixed media.

“I have truly found what I love to do,” Henke said. “I’ve been very successful with my abstracts and that keeps me energized and eager to create more.”

Whether you’re going to drive around in one of the unique art cars or check out abstract sculptures and paintings, or even if it’s just because the event is free, you will be amazed at the talent Art in the Park has to offer.

“I feel it’s crucial that we experience art in our everyday lives, because a world without art would be a dull, dreary place without color,” Henke said.

WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday,
May 14-15
WHERE: Seville Square
COST: Free
DETAILS: 432-6247 or