By KAITLYN NAPLES
There shouldn’t be any complaints on Saturday of there being nothing to do in Bristol, especially since the West End Association’s second annual festival will be taking over Rockwell Park to bring crafts, food, entertainment, games and more.
In addition to all of that, Bare Bones will be hosting the fine arts aspect of the festival where many local artists will put their work out, and will also be producing artwork, live, as the festival goes on.
Bristol resident Amy Ozga graduated from Bristol Eastern High School this year, and will be attending the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford in the fall to work towards a degree in Drawing/Painting and Media Arts. The 18-year-old will be participating in this year’s Rockwell Park Summer Festival because she hopes to have an opportunity to showcase her work to the general public. This year’s art event will feature more than 30 artists offering a mix of live art and art for sale.
“I’m very excited about participating in the year’s West End Festival because as a young artist who still has much to improve on, I often find it difficult to showcase my work to the public,” Ozga said, adding she believes working with “Bare Bones and the West End Association allows more artistic culture to flourish in Bristol.”
She said she has primarily focused on drawing and painting, and enjoys using pencil, acrylic and oil for her artwork.
“Ever since I was a child, I was surrounded by artists— my father paints in his free time and my mother used to enjoy sculpting,” she said, adding her family has encouraged her talents, “and I really owe a lot of my success to them. With the support of my family and art instructors, I continue to work to improve my talent.” She added she is working on practicing her skills in preparation for college in the fall.
She uses her artwork to express her “inner thoughts and emotions,” which is what she said she enjoys so much.
“When I don’t feel like explaining my thoughts in words, picking up a paintbrush really helps me get across what I feel. I believe visual representations often say much more, too,” she said.
At this year’s summer festival, Ozga said she would encourage the public to come out to the free event “because I believe it showcases a positive, artistic side that Bristol often is not known for. Whether it (is) music, food, or art, there are a lot of improvements going on within our community that many people are still unaware of.”
Cindy Witter, owner of 24 Peace from Cobalt, will be at the festival as well, showcasing her products and the work of the artists that she works with. Witter worked in retail, and when she was laid off she said she’d never go back to the “corporate world” ever again. The 52-year-old mother of three, grandmother of 6, and wife of 34 years started her journey into the art world after being inspired by her late sister who passed away from a brain tumor. Her sister developed the tumor in her 30s and was only given 6 months to live. However, Witter said, her sister was a “true natural hippy artist” who didn’t want chemotherapy or chemicals, so she used meditation, tea, herbs and art as her own medication.
“She lived for 14 years, shocking the doctors and was able to raise her son and send him off to college. She used the power of nature, her art, and love for her family to live her life the way she wanted, to the end,” Witter said in an email.
Her shop, 24 Peace, is a vehicle for artists to get their work out into the community, and Witter said everything she does for the artists she works with all started with her sister. A percentage of every purchase made from 24 Peace goes toward the artists and also a charity.
“I do have to say that I have been the luckiest gal on the planet to have the most talented and giving group of artists who have agreed to take this journey with me…they are awesome and are the heart and soul of this business,” Witter said.
She added that she would encourage the public to attend the festival on Saturday to see people from all different ages and backgrounds “who just want to get together as a community and have fun and support each other.”
Kate Stephen, who has a studio in Bethlehem, is the owner of Kate Stephen Jewelry and has been making jewelry for the last 15 years. She will be attending the festival and will be displaying her artwork.
“I love the work that they (Bare Bones) have done to foster and encourage the arts in Bristol and I like the idea of joining with fellow artists to provide an engaging atmosphere for festival goers to view and purchase fine arts and crafts from local designers,” she said in an email.
Stephen said her jewelry is “sculptural copper and brass designs that feature upcycled materials, found natural objects and semi-precious stones.”
“I love creating unique wearable art that plays with different texture and colors, I come up with a new design every day,” she added.
The festival will kick off at 10 a.m. at Rockwell Park on Saturday, Aug. 17, and is free. The rain date is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 18.
For an updated listing of events and activities online, visit www.westendbristol.org. Anyone interested in participating as a vendor, or have other services to offer should contact David Hamelin at (860)583-3292.
Rockwell Park is located off of Park Street in Bristol.