Friday, April 9, 2010

Zora Neale Hurston Festival

The Zora Neale Hurston Festival is held in the final weeks of January. The festival is held in the small town of Eatonville which is just north of Lee Road. Eatonville is the the oldest incorporated African American municipality in the United States. Zora Neale Hurston is one of most significant authors of African-American culture in the world, and many of her works celebrate her hometown of Eatonville, right here in Central Florida! 2010 marked 50 years since Hurston's death.
The event features museum exhibitions, public talks, panel discussions, workshops and concerts. It culminates with a three-day weekend Street Festival of the Arts, which features everything from literacy programs for children; performances by local, regional and national acts; Juried Arts competitions, presenting fine artists with their original artwork in competition for cash prizes; an international marketplace, where visitors purchase wares from around the world, an international food pavilion featuring an array of food options and more.
When I got to the Eatonville, I found Kennedy Boulevard, the main road, closed to traffic. I pulled into a small churches dirt parking lot. I walked down the boulevard past a local bar and many small somewhat rundown wooden homes. Soon there were vendors tents and I walked the length of the vendors area looking for a subject for a sketch. I finally settled on this collection of large wooden sculptures. The proprietor wore a brown leather jacket and light brown pants. Once in a while he would move some of the larger pieces, I suppose figuring the new arrangement would draw in more costumers. Periodically people would look over my shoulder to see what I was up to. One woman told me all about a silk painting she had bought for really cheep. She later returned and showed me the artwork she had bought. The image is created entirely with thin strands of colored silk pasted down in a spiral pattern. The silk caught the light and sent it back to the viewer with a bright shimmer. Another family stopped to look, and it turns out the young boy has been teaching himself Flash animation on the computer, so I explained about how I had worked for Disney Feature Animation for ten years. They asked me for advice on any books about animation I might recommend and I gave them my top pics.
There was plenty of color to be seen at the festival although my sketch seems to only demonstrate a sea of brown. I ordered some food from a vendor and listened to some gospel music before I headed home.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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