Airing out the arts in Simpson Garden Park

Greg Justus works on an alcohol ink painting during Art in the Park


BG Independent News

Art in the Park allows the arts to blossom right along with the flowers in Simpson Garden.

For the fourth year, the festival of arts will take place at the garden, at the intersection of Conneaut and Wintergarden, Friday, June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The event packs in a lot of activity into a two-hour span. It features plein air art – artists working in the open air, as well as strolling musicians, theater, at every turn, and children’s activities in the Simpson Building. That’s where performances will happen if the rain comes.

But Alice Calderonello, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, urged people not to give up on the weather. Last year the rain threatened all afternoon, but then the skies cleared just in time for art walk.

“For some reason heaven smiles on us,” she said.

This year, said her husband, John Calderonello, there are more performers than ever. They will be spread from the upper healing garden where strolling performers from the university’s doctorate in contemporary music will do their musical version of plein air art, improvising to suit the mood. Also, new to the event will by the vocal ensemble Inside Voices, also near the healing garden. Down the way in the peace garden the Kaze No Daichi Taiko drum ensemble will perform. In stages closer to the building singer Tom Gorman, the old time ensemble Root Cellar Band, Irish tunes by Toraigh an Sonas, and the Black Swamp Drum Circle will entertain.

In the amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theater will stage a preview of its summer musical, “Dorothy in Wonderland,” at 5:15 and 6:30 and in between the Black Swamp Players will read a section of Scott Regan’s original play “Peanuts and Crackerjacks.” The play will be part of the Players’ 51st season.

Spread throughout the garden will be artists at work, though not so intently that they won’t take a time to chat with guests.

Last year eight artists took part, but organizers are always hoping for more.

Jules Webster of Art Supply Depo is again sponsoring a $100 gift certificate to go to one artist voted the favorite by those attending.

While artists can sign up on the day of the event, Alice Calderonello encouraged them to register in advance to make sure the council can get their names on the ballot and has contact information should they win. Artists should contact Craig Blair at

Art Depo is also giving young artist a chance to do plein air painting just like their elders.

That will be offered in the children’s garden. The Bowling Green Montessori School and BG Parks and Recreation will have children’s activities inside the Simpson Building.

Arts council member Nancy Stonerock is busy baking cookies for the event.

Alice Calderonello said that this year the council has trimmed Art in the Park down to two hours. Most people come after work and before supper, so the 5 to 7 time frame fits well. Prudence Brott of Sunset Bistro is offering 15 percent for the arts council that evening for those who want to catch supper after the event.

Putting on such a festival takes many hands. Art in the Park involves a collaboration. Calderonello praised the help that Ivan Kovacevic and the Parks and Recreation staff provides.

The arts council works with other groups for its other events. Art Walk is a joint venture with Downtown Bowling Green. Art 4 Animals is a collaboration with Four Corners Center and the Wood County Humane Society; and 50+ Shades of Grey is put on with the Council on Aging.

All this takes volunteers to help plan and run those events. The arts council has attracted a few new retirees as members as well as a couple younger people – that’s how they got the Taiko Drums involved in Art in the Park.

But they can always use more, she said.

People don’t need to attend meetings regularly. They can join to help work for one or more events.

As the years have gone on, the council’s goal has shifted from promoting the work of local visual artists to promoting an appreciation of the arts in the community.

And that’s the goal of Art in the Park, Alice Calderonello said: “It enables artists to be appreciated, and. it also allows citizens in the community to enjoy free arts events.”