A sensual art experience on tap in Stuart this weekend

A sensual art experience on tap in Stuart this weekend

By Maya Ellenson
for Martin County Currents

On the heels of the wildly successful Hobe Sound Festival of the Arts this past weekend comes not just another art festival Feb. 9-10 in Stuart, but a weekend of total art immersion.

Yes, you will see great art at the 32nd Annual Stuart ArtsFest and watch its creation, but there’s so much more. You also will be able to hear it, taste it, and experience it with three sound stages and 100 artists Saturday and Sunday at Memorial Park in downtown Stuart.

“This is rightfully our signature event,” says CEO Nancy Turrell, of the Martin County Arts Council, which organizes and sponsors the event that celebrates the visual, performing and culinary arts. Admission is $10 per day, with children 12 and under free. Gates open at 10 a.m. each day, and tickets may be purchased in advance at www.martinarts.org.

“This year we’ll celebrate world cultures. Bringing an international dimension into our community is very important,” she says. “The language of art is truly universal as it helps to honor diversity, allowing us to celebrate unity at the same time.”

General admission on Feb. 9 also includes access to ArtsFest After Dark, a dazzling nighttime display of acclaimed dance troupes honoring Indian, Asian, South American and Polynesian Islands traditions in rhythm and fire.

Attend expert-led sessions on the art of fermentation, creating essential oils and preparing lion fish. Artists will participate in a mosaic of diverse art forms, including even circus performances on Saturday.

The culinary competition is inspired by the popular TV show, “Chopped,” and a juried contest in wall painting among 10 urban artists from around the state – done as you watch – will be awarded with a $1,000 prize to the winner.

Kids can get creative in the ARTivity Zone, featuring freestyle and facilitated activities. Parents can shop among hundreds of juried artists in multiple mediums. You can even “upgrade” your experience with a $50 VIP ticket that includes lunch and a drink from Carrabba’s, as well as shade in the luxury lounge.

“All the proceeds from the event will be invested back into the community to support our art education programs and art-related initiatives,” Turrell says. Band and performance schedules can be found at www.martinarts.org.


Turrell has guided the Arts Council, a private, non-profit organization, into a cultural powerhouse in Martin County, where multiple artistic initiatives translate into tangible achievements with the support of the Martin County Commission, the help of membership contributions and an active involvement of a donor circle, Women Supporting the Arts.

Currently, the Arts Council gallery in the Old Courthouse on Ocean Boulevard hosts an exhibition through Feb. 14, “Serendipity in Eco Art,” showcasing Old Palm City’s eco-project, “Ripple,” designed by South Florida visionary artist, Lucy Keshvarz and partially funded by a National Endowment of the Arts “Our Town” grant.

Keshavarz, a landscape designer and mixed media artist who specializes in installations of eco-art designs in public places and private gardens, is part of a worldwide movement to incorporate nature into artistic endeavors.

As a Florida eco-artist, Keshvarz helps us to better understand and appreciate our native ecosystem by bringing our natural habitats to urban areas, accentuating the conscious synergy between the two.

So what is the “Ripple” project? Ripple, as a drop of water becomes a river, will reconnect the Old Palm City neighborhood with the St. Lucie River within an artistically designed stormwater treatment area. Completed design plans are expected this summer.

A joint effort of engineers, architects, landscape designers and citizens as an Old Palm City Community Redevelopment Project, Ripple combines the technical aspects with a conceptual design, yet its aesthetics arise from the community’s vision.

“For instance, the residents would like to have on the terrain certain amenities,” she explains,
“like a walking trail and an appealing gathering area. As in my previous eco-projects, dozens of native Florida plants will be integrated into the landscape.”

In her mixed-media art on exhibit now at the Courthouse Art Gallery, the earth flows into the gallery and inspires us to go back to nature, raising our awareness of the interconnectedness of all lifeforms.

Her “Native Impressions” series, composed by pressing native plants into torn clay slabs, reflect in miniature her accomplished eco-art projects, Babbling Brook and Old Dixie Eco Walk at Seabourn Cove, which was highly acclaimed for reforesting an urban area with 70 species of Florida native plants and improving stormwater quality. The “Babbling Brook” design received the “Urban Oasis” designation by Audubon of Florida.

Her artwork is deeply synergic, poetic, and transformative. Contemplating her mixed media compositions, The Native Impressions and Urban Exotic Series, is similar to the feeling that comes from reading a haiku, where the sense of immensity emerges unexpectedly from just a few words.

After you’re done, all you experience is serendipity, for the whole experience becomes consensual—you’re both in and out.

Similarly, Keshvarz’s eco-art creates the same serendipitous effect by plugging us back into nature and erasing the walls of separation between the human species and the earth.

And just as the upcoming ArtsFest celebrates unity through a rich kaleidoscope of world cultures, “Serendipity in Eco Art” emphasizes the synergy among art, natural and man-made environments.

A percentage of art sales will be donated to Ripple, according to Keshvarz, to help fulfill the community’s vision.

Check the Art Council’s website for future events and Ripple-related panel discussions: www.martinarts.org. Artist Lucy Keshvarz can be reached at: [email protected].