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Suwanee welcomes annual Arts in the Park event

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Special Photo More than 60 visual artists plan to join performers, food vendors and other activities at Suwanee's Arts in the Park Festival May 18.

The unusually cool weather is supposed to warm up these next few weeks, and what better way to celebrate "Spring at last" than by enjoying a beautiful park filled with visual and performing art? The fourth annual Suwanee Arts in the Park will be held May 18, fulfilling that urge to mingle outside surrounded by creative energy. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. in Suwanee's Town Center.

"We started this festival as a way to share the arts with the community," said North Gwinnett Arts Association President Vickie Johnson. "Art enriches our lives, and this festival is all about sharing the fun, energy and creativity that the arts can offer."

Sponsored by the city and the NGAA, the festival will feature 60 visual artists displaying and selling their work, with some demonstrations available too.

Performing arts will be represented with some unusual characters. A Captain Jack Sparrow look-alike will accompany the Little Mermaid as they ramble about the park. Other performers include Zephyr Brass Quartet at 11:15 a.m., magician Merritt Ambrose at noon, Billy Jonas at 12:30 p.m. and a Zumba flash mob at 1:15 p.m.

Jonas performs on instruments made from recycled items and was invited to perform at the White House and on PBS programming.

At 1:40 p.m., Captain Jack and the Little Mermaid will perform with the Collins Hill Orchestra, followed by the James Erl Jones Band at 2:15 p.m., Jonas returns at 3 p.m. An awards presentation happens at 4 p.m., followed by James Erl Jones Band at 5 p.m. and the Zumba Flashmob again at 5:30 p.m.

Another fun aspect of the Suwanee Arts in the Park event is a chalk art competition. As a part of this event, a professional chalk artist will create a drawing that is designed to last nine to 12 months. The competition is open to adults and children with separate winning categories for adults and young artists. The city provides a bucket of chalk to those who have registered, and no other materials can be used in creating the artwork. Winners are announced at 4 p.m. from the festival stage.

There are extras as well beyond the visual and performing artists. At this festival, the 2013-15 SculpTour exhibit will be officially unveiled. This major event is a great representation of how a city or other governmental entity can create excitement for public art through such programs as the Suwanee SculpTour.

Termed a "walkable public art encounter," the tour consists of 15 pieces of sculpture weighing in at 7,000 pounds of art. The 15 pieces were created by artists from all over the country, including sculptors from New York City, Chicago, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, and of course, Georgia.

In addition, attendees can view a temporary art exhibit which consists of a piece of the Berlin Wall which is on exhibit in front of City Hall.

For more information about Suwanee Arts in the Park, visit www.suwaneeartsinthepark.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.