Named one of nine “People to Watch” by Hudson Valley Magazine, Liz Glover Wilson, architect of the Sunflower Art Festival in Gardiner NY, is taking 2016 by storm. Throughout her career, Liz has produced over 1,000 events (and counting) and since the opening of her consulting firm in 2009, she has fundraised over $30 million dollars for her clients. Needless to say, getting an interview with this woman is no easy feat. I knew if I were going to learn more about the inspiration for the Sunflower Art Festival, I’d have to become part of her daily routine. Accordingly, it was side by side in the seat of a hairdresser’s chair that the seeds of this article came to fruition.
Much of the Sunflower Art Festival dedicates its influence to art. Liz explains that while she has always enjoyed making art, she was her own worst critic and often threw away her finished work. After the passing of her sister, Esther, Liz found countless pieces of her own forgotten artwork in Esther’s apartment that had been saved and framed. Liz exclaims, “[Esther encouraged] me to come back to my art with renewed energy and confidence. I had to live in my truth and in myself and I am an artist. Esther saved my art.” The idea for the Sunflower Art Festival came to Liz almost a year after Esther passed away as she reveals that with time, “I realized I was not going to be able to throw her a 40th birthday party, [but] I had this other thought. I was going to throw her a party anyway.” In these moments, the vision for the Sunflower Art Festival of 2015 emerged; and what a party it was.
Perhaps one of the greatest odes to Esther, who as a police officer “ believed in protecting our littlest citizens, most of all,” is that this family friendly event encourages children of all ages to participate. Under the Esther’s Kids Tent, instructors work with ‘Little Van Gogh’s’ to nurture their creativity and skill development. Liz also informs readers that this year, “we have upped the ante with the kids art tent and the kids experience,” featuring a ‘Kid’s Jam Hour’ from 10:00 am to 11:00 am in which children can play and explore real instruments. Qualified teachers and facilitators will accompany the children during this hour, leaving the option of free community yoga, also offered during that time period, open to the parents.
Additionally, this year’s celebration offers an imaginative take on ‘Sunflowers’ in the Hudson Valley. Bringing artists’ work to life, Liz brings forth an explosive, new concept named “Flowerworks.” Lady Pink, a renowned street artist local to Gardiner, is working with Liz to lead over a dozen street artists in a large scale, live installation of sunflowers on 9X9 canvases that will spread out alongside the Shawangunkill River. Pre-made installations will also be available for festivalgoers to take pictures with. In addition to the Sunflowers, artists such as Ryan Cronin will work across the festival’s field to create a tremendous display of their own visionary live art installations; a concept exclusive to this year’s Sunflower Art Festival.
Liz hopes that this event will bring people from all walks of life together. “The entire festival is in honor of Esther and who she was as a person. The way we designed the event, is for it to forever be a celebration that has no prejudice and no definitions about who can come... I want people who are normally at conflict to be at peace with each other. This is something that I want and what Esther wanted in her everyday life as Esther: a poet, a person and a Police Officer.” With elements like live music, a farm and craft marketplace, and local libations and fare that transpire all day, Liz encourages participants to bring a blanket, or a chair, and stay awhile.
To learn more about the Sunflower Art Festival on August 13, in Gardiner, NY visit: www.sunflowerartfestival.com.
Pictures and article by:
LACE Photo Media