Live music, outdoor art and craft stations will bring the gardens to life at the 2013 Art in the Arboretum. Its seven acres off Oleander Drive already showcase a variety of plant and emerging trends in gardening, and act as the cooperative extension’s horticulture laboratory. By turning the gardens into an art festival every October, the arboretum raises funds to help further educate the general public on horticulture.
Artists have been sending in their work to administrative assistant Gary Levesque for months now, to be a part of the event. So far there are around 92 artists who will be showing their work. Photographer Sean Ruttkay, jeweler Mitzy Jonkheer, and painter Cheryl McGraw, are a few of the people participating.
“We are making sure things look 100 percent for the art show,” Levesque adds. “I’m really excited to see some new artists that will be participating this year.”
Levesque describes the quality of the art being featured as “high end.” A committee chose the participants, which will showcase two-and-three-dimensional works in glass, textiles, stepping-stones, paintings and photography. Local artists will also be selling art at the event.
Sue Watkins serves as committee chair for Art in the Arboretum and has been a part of the event for three years now. Starting out as a volunteer at the gardens, she has grown to appreciate everything being offered through the event.
“This year we have expanded the art being featured,” Watkins says. “We wanted to encourage more people who did outdoor art, such as pottery or sculptures.”
Art in the Arboretum is one of the main fund-raisers for the gardens, hosted as a “Friends of the Arboretum Event.” All of the fees required to become a member go back into the arboretum 100 percent. Last year over $17,000 worth of art was sold. With every piece sold, the arboretum gets 30 percent commission.
Volunteers remain a huge necessity in order for this event to go smoothly. Levesque is still taking applications. “If we didn’t have our volunteers working there, then [Art in the Arboretum] would not happen,” Watkins says. The entire community has put their hands together, and there will be a variety of special touches added to the weekend of festivities. The arboretum collaborated with the Children’s Museum of Wilmington for children to paint featured banners. Also featured will be the Ability Garden, the outcome of a gardening program that works with people who have handicaps. Over 85 artists had their art featured last year.
Live music will also be included over two days. Sounds by the Port City Trio, Earle Griffith, Beverly Andrews and Band of Others will be played. “We do this to add to the overall ambience of the event,” administrative assistant Gary Levesque says.
Thousands of people churn out annually to participate. “The gardens are always spectacular in the fall,” Watkins says. “Sometimes people come and they are so surprised because they did not know we were here.”
Saturday evening there will be a party for the members of the arboretum. Admission for members is $15 in advance and $20 the night of. There will be a silent auction, raffle, open bar with wine and beer, and food.
“Becoming a member of the arboretum is inexpensive in the long run, because it pays for itself right away,” Levesque says.
Two free tickets to Art in the Arboretum, special classes, a free ticket to Airlie Gardens, discounts from certain merchants in the community, and free admission to over 300 gardens across the country are a few of the bonuses to joining. As the event quickly approaches, volunteers, artists and staff members are preparing to make it another success.
“The weather is absolutely beautiful this time of year and the gardens are in full bloom,” Levesque says. “It is a really relaxing and tranquil time to leisurely walk around the gardens. If you have never been to the art show this is an excellent opportunity to see the arboretum and its splendor.”
Classes such as the “Master Gardener Program” are available as educational resources for the public to take part in. There is also a “Plant Clinic Hotline” in place to answer any questions individuals might have about gardening (910-798-7679).
“The arboretum is such a great resource for the southeast North Carolina area,” Watkins adds. “It belongs to the people, so it is great for them to come out and see it.”
Art in the Arboretum
6206 Olenader Drive
October 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
October 6, noon – 4 p.m.
$5 GA; free for children and Friends of the Arboretum members