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Bele Chere is a creative carnival

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7/25/2012 - Bele Chere is a creative carnival
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- One of the newest arts addition to Bele Chere is bringing back one of the festival's favorite creative traditions.

The city's mobile art lab, Easel Rider, will return to the festival footprint this year to host a chalk art contest.

"It's the 34th year of the festival," said Diane Ruggiero, superintendent of cultural arts. "Through the different years of Bele Chere, there have been different (arts-related) things to do. This year, the Bele Chere festival folks suggested we resurrect something that we used to do ... and the chalk art contest was one of the most popular" events from the past.

The multimedia art facility will be stationed in the parking lot next to the Green Sage Coffeehouse and Cafe on College Street.

Ruggiero said chalk contest participants will have up to a 6-by-6-foot space for their piece, and prizes for first through third place will be awarded.

"We will be having some more hands-on activities that vary," she said. "There will also be a chalk mural (produced). Easel Rider is always a fun place to stop by."

Last year, the then-brand-new Easel Rider transformed into a photo booth. "The photo booth took over 3,000 photos," Ruggiero said. "What was really interesting is that we got an idea of who was coming to the festival, all these different ages and types of people. We now have a photo catalog of not the festival, but the participants, which was something we hadn't done before."

Ruggiero noted that the mobile art lab is an "experimental place" and that organizers plan on doing something different at each festival.

Also new this year: the Bele Chere poster contest art show at Zapow Gallery, 21 Battery Park, Suite 101. The exhibit features the submissions from the annual contest, as well as the winning selection.

More exhibiting artists will be featured at the Bele Chere art park, housed on Patton Avenue across from The Lobster Trap restaurant.

"We have a little over 50 artists," she said. "They are juried, and there will be a competition for the best art, and they win a cash prize."

Ruggiero said festival organizers received an increased number of applications this year. "We look to have a balance (between the different art forms," so that it's not all jewelry and photography," for instance, she said.

"Every year our jury is different, so every year different artists get in," she added. "Just because you saw it last year, don't expect it to the be the same."

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