Combine drumming circles, live tattoo artistry, musical and dance performances, and a cool fall evening, and you have the backdrop for the 12th Annual Applaud the Arts event. Hosted by the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) and the Appleton Museum of Art, the festivities also featured spoken word and dramatic performances, along with music, a live “art-in-progress” tattoo session, and awards to arts supporters. Dozens of art lovers strolled the elegant Appleton and its courtyard, sipped on locally made bourbon and wines, and nibbled on a variety of tasty treats from area restaurants.
Among the highlights of the evening’s live entertainment was the Marion Ballet Theatre presenting both solo and group dance performances. The Ocala Civic Theatre provided a skit, and the Kingdom of the Sun Brass Quintet even performed on horns. An especially moving piece was the Forest High Concert Choir performing “The Lord’s Prayer” in Swahili.
The nibbles and libations were provided by: Brick City Southern Kitchen & BBQ; Dignity Roasters; Feta Mediterranean Cuisine; Fish Hawk Spirits; Infinite Ale Works; Katya Vineyards; La Casella Catering; La Cuisine; Ocala’s Chocolate & Confections; Pi on Broadway; SaraFay Farm; Sonny’s BBQ; Stella’s Modern Pantry; and Tri-Eagle Sales.
The Appleton’s exhibits were open as well, including a seasonal and impressive collection of Christmas dolls and decorations. Local culture maven Jesse James was part of the live tattoo art exhibit; his left leg was inked and colored(!) by artist Dave Sedano during the entire evening.
The MCA has awarded over $300,000 to arts organizations since 2002. In addition, individual awards to honor patrons and supporters of arts in Marion County went to Suzanne Schmittling of Maplewood Elementary School for using art to stimulate learning; Jim Ross took home the 2019 Service Award for his 11 years of volunteer efforts in the arts; and Olivia Ortiz was recognized for her “energizer bunny” attitude and championship of the arts.