BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
MARTIN (April 10) – Clouds, light rain, and strong winds couldn’t keep artists, performers and arts advocates from celebrating Saturday. The array of talent evident at the first Northwest Tennessee Arts Festival, which included the Weakley County Schools Art Show, meant the three-hour event concluded with both the sun and smiles beaming.
Families and friends of young visual artists, musicians, vocalists, dancers and actors were treated to an installation of 124 drawings, painting, photos and mixed-media pieces, as well as a full program of performances.
Weakley Arts Can, a local group focused on advocacy and support of the arts for both the community and schools, launched the outdoor festival this year to give students and area artists and performers an opportunity to show their talents in a COVID-safe environment. The University of Tennessee at Martin Music Department also served as a sponsor, along with Weakley County Schools.
“We are so appreciative of UTM’s willingness to share the lessons they learned with their successful Live at the Tent events and their incredible set up near Pacer Pond,” said Katie Mantooth, co-president of Weakley Arts Can with Julie Hill, the department chair for UTM’s music program. “Offering our students the chance to perform in a festival-type setting gives them not only experience with the arts, but also a chance to learn creative problem-solving when the weather doesn’t always cooperate.
“In addition, children were able to discover other arts outlets outside their focus. Visual artists heard steel drums. Vocalists explored photography and mixed media. And mommas and daddies were made aware of a child’s talent and saw them applauded for it,” she noted.
Along with UTM students who took to the open-air stage, Weakley County saw every school represented in both the visual art display and the performances.
The Dresden High School Choir, under the direction of Jacob Abbott, literally discovered the joy of singing in the rain as the morning drizzle had not yet concluded when they opened the show with three numbers.
Middle School music teacher Rebecca Steele helped Sharon School and Greenfield School turn buckets into drums for rousing interpretations of their pieces.
Weakley Playhouse, a theater group of students from every Weakley County High School and directed by Martin Kane, brought laughter to the tent as they presented a raucous scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
And the Westview Jazz Band presented together and in quartets with Jennifer Cupples and Rebecca Steele directing.
When asked about the impact of the day, Kane replied, “Theater is less alive in an empty room with a camera. The actors feel the energy of the audience, and an engaged audience allows them to connect with their characters more than they do in rehearsal.”
Music teachers voiced the hope that the community support would continue for upcoming performances.
Other local talent rounded out the program which included a mid-day pause to recognize the winners of the countywide visual art show.
Weakley County Schools Director Randy Frazier and Board Chair Steve Vantrease thanked the sponsors and judges before announcing the winners. Included in their praise were art teachers and event supporter Discovery Park of America who gifted tickets to the venue to all first-place winners.
UTM’s David McBeth and Jason Stout, Beth Cravens of the Weakley County Press, Sabrina Bates of the Dresden Enterprise and local graphic artist Jai-Chandler Mathis served as the panel of judges who determined the first-, second- and third-place awards for four age-bands and four categories from each school’s top three entries.
All the school winners were displayed on stands created by Greenfield School ag teacher Matt Humphrey and his students. Art teachers Nan Satterfield and Amber Wharton curated the display, assisted by volunteers enlisted by Weakley Arts Can.
In reflecting on the day, Frazier noted, “Just like the weather posed obstacles that had to be overcome for this one-day festival to be the great success that it was, we as a school system will continue to address budgetary restrictions that keep us from having the robust arts program we all desire. We appreciate the work of Weakley Arts Can and are committed to working with them to provide even more arts opportunities in the future.”
The Weakley County Art Show winners for 2021 are:
Drawing – Grades K-2
1st: Greydon Shepherd, Greenfield
2nd: Persie Foster, Gleason
3rd: Grayson Stout, Martin Primary
Drawing – Grades 3-5
1st: Alexa Vu, Martin Elementary
2nd: Kinsley Baker, Greenfield
3rd: Mariana Ivansic, Martin Elementary
Drawing – Grades 6-8
1st: Emma McGregor and Savanah Hagan, Martin Middle
2nd: Destiny Brewer, Sharon
3rd: Alina Vo, Martin Middle
Drawing – Grades 9-12
1st: Katy Cursey, Westview
2nd: Ellie Dodson, Westview
3rd: Michael Butler, Westview
Painting – Grades K-2
1st: Travis Bailey, Gleason
2nd: Tegan Stout, Dresden Elementary
3rd: Case Harrington, Greenfield
Painting – Grades 3-5
1st: Jebb Lunsford, Greenfield
2nd: Lydia Moore, Martin Elementary
3rd: Kimberlynn Vanhorn, Gleason
Painting – Grades 6-8
1st: Navaiha Streeter, Greenfield
2nd: Lena Zimmerman, Martin Middle
3rd: Destiny Ragan, Dresden Middle
Painting – Grades 9-12
1st: Megan Totty, Westview
2nd: Garrett Garner, Greenfield
3rd: Zanda Tipton, Gleason
Photography – Grades K-2
1st: Barnes Bragg, Martin Primary
2nd: Boone Hampton, Martin Primary
3rd: Bolton Brooks, Martin Primary
Photography – Grades 3-5
1st: Presley Snider, Martin Elementary
2nd: Hannah Wells, Greenfield
3rd: Emmitt Bragg, Martin Elementary
Photography – Grades 6-8
1st: Bella Hendrix, Dresden Middle
2nd: Kadance Brewer, Martin Middle
Photography – Grades 9-12
1st: Ellie Dodson, Westview
2nd: Makayla Morrow, Gleason
3D/Sculpture/Mixed Media – Grades K-2
1st: Persie Foster, Gleason
2nd: Blakely Pentecost, Greenfield
3rd: Kinley Trevathan, Gleason
3D/Sculpture/Mixed Media – Grades 3-5
1st: Kathie Winstead, Greenfield
2nd: Baker Biggs, Greenfield
3rd: Bryson McAbee, Dresden Elementary
3D/Sculpture/Mixed Media – Grades 6-8
1st: Levi Irby, Greenfield
2nd: Lila Trevathan, Greenfield
3rd: Samuel Butero, Martin Middle
3D/Sculpture/Mixed Media – Grades 9-12
1st: Madison Yates, Westview
2nd: Michael Butler, Westview
3rd: Nicholas Avent, Westview