Though all creative arts were celebrated at this year’s Summer Scene arts and music festival, the art of the Adirondack chair took center stage.
Artists of all ages and abilities were invited to participate in the Raymore Pop-Up Art Project as part of the daylong festival Saturday at T.B. Hanna Station. In this annual creative contest, contestants paint and decorate their own Adirondacks, an icon for summer leisure.
More than two dozen artists entered their bedecked deck chairs in this year’s contest for a chance to win Lowe’s gift cards and to have their projects exhibited after the festival. Squirrels, cows, fairy gardens, dinosaurs, mountains and beaches were just some of the themes that inspired this year’s artists.
Muralist Anna Ryan of Belton chose a Hawaiian paradise for her design.
“My daughter lives in Hawaii and I don’t get to see my granddaughter very much, so I painted a chair that reminded me of her,” Ryan said. “Every time I sit in it, I think of her.”
Organized by the Raymore Arts commission, the event also included a juried art exhibit, live music throughout the day and family-focused activities. Children could paint, create with clay, draw on giant chalkboards or collaborate on skyscraper projects using giant wooden blocks.
Audiences participated in interactive performances by the StoneLion Puppet Theatre and Jack Snaps Family band. Raymore’s Southland Conservatory of Music hosted an instrument petting zoo where kids discovered and played guitars, drums and other instruments. Dancers learned some hot new moves in a hip-hop lesson taught by Loren Jones, Raymore arts commission member.
“The city has put a lot of thought into what represents Raymore and they’re family-focused. It’s a family-oriented atmosphere here,” said Ed Williams, who attended the festival with his wife, Nekedra, and their two sons.
“Raymore truly appreciates the arts,” Nekedra added.
The city’s support of the arts has increased significantly since the seven-member Raymore Arts Commission was formed in 2015. The Summer Scene festival is just one of many initiatives the commission has spearheaded through its robust focus on the arts.
Chet Redmon’s seed pod sculpture at the corner of Missouri 58 and Dean Avenue, a Memorial Park mural depicting Raymore’s history, and plans for an outdoor amphitheater are just a few of the commission’s projects.
“The commission’s goal is to bring more arts to the city and give people opportunities to expand their horizons. From art shows to concerts, we want them to enjoy all of the arts,” said arts commission chair Sharon Parys. “Once you open the doors to the arts, people start coming out.”
According to Parys, Raymore residents really came out for the festival.
“We had a great crowd after the sun started to set. Hundreds of people came out, and they danced to Blown Cover until 10 p.m.”
Also during a big reveal Saturday evening, the two Adirondack design winners were announced. More than 300 people cast ballots throughout the day for the People’s Choice Award, and members the Raymore Arts Commission selected the Judge’s Choice Award winner.
Stardust Wehmeyer’s cow-themed chair took the People’s Choice Award, while Laura Mussatti’s shark attack design caught the eye of the judges. Along with the Lowe’s gift card, Mussatti was awarded a commission to paint the city’s 9-foot Adirondack chair. A centerpiece of the festival, the chair is repainted each year by contest winners.
When Mussatti started her chair design several weeks ago, winning the contest seemed a distant possibility.
“The design first started as a pool with a high dive,” Mussatti said. “But it was boring. Really boring. I needed action and a story that no one understood, including me. That’s the kind of artist I am.”
“I decided to add dinosaurs because they were cheap at Walmart. Then the design descended into chaos. A good chaos.”
Though she did not foresee winning this year’s Adirondack contest, Mussatti does envision a future as an artist. A junior this fall, she will begin Raymore-Peculiar High School’s two-year International Baccalaureate program, during which she will focus her studies on art.
“Watercolor is my favorite,” she said. “I did digital for quite some time and recently came back to watercolor. It was like coming home.”