863 Art Fest Gets Artsy for 9th Annual Event
by James Coulter
For most people, cigar boxes are good for mostly storing stogies. However, for an artist like Kathy Graziami, these boxes are perfect for creating dioramas.
From little gnome homes to doll houses, Kathy has created countless creations using leftover cigar boxes. Some serve as downtown New York-style pizzerias. Others serve as a little home for Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
As a retiree, Kathy creates her crafts as a way to keep her mind busy through all the free time retirement grants her. She has showcased her cigar box dioramas and bottle art at the Holiday Market and 863 Art Fest in Winter Haven.
“I have done the Christmas show here, and I decided to do the spring show,” she said. “Lots of vendors with a really good crowd. And good weather. So that is all you can ask for.”
More than 100 vendors congregated in Central Park in Downtown Winter Haven on Sunday for the 9th Annual 863 Art Fest. From glass figurines to homemade wreaths, anything and everything that could be made into art were showcased on Saturday.
Married couple Laurie and Caroline Hart displayed their painted wooden plaques. Though they often paint Disney characters, they often derive their inspiration from the natural world with birds and turtles. During the event, they showcased art commissioned for Chef Jason Smith.
The Harts have been coming back time and again to 863 Art Fest. What has allowed the event to remain successful for them and everyone else has been the hard work and dedication of the event organizer, Sergio Cruz.
“He should be able to do more events like this that bring the community together,” Caroline Hart said. “We are local artists, so this is a full-time job. So to have events like this helps our small business. A lot of people come from out of town. He does a great job at advertising.”
This year’s event was 25 percent bigger than last year’s, Cruz explained. He owes its growth and success to advertising. He heavily promotes his events on social media, promoting not only the venue itself but the individual artists who attend.
“Every single vendor shares all our social media work, and I ask that everyone does their part so we can grow as a team,” he said. “The 863 has shown that it brings the community together to encourage people and motivate them into the cultural artwork. It is overwhelming and very encouraging.”