There’s an easy connection between art and nature of which a new Surry Arts Council event held this weekend takes full advantage.
“Nature is one of the best inspirations for art,” said Kayla Ellis, a Franklin and Flat Rock Elementary School art teacher and arts council volunteer.
Ellis taught a “Critter Painting” workshop during the inaugural “Art & Nature” themed festival, which began Saturday and continues on Sunday.
The painting class was one of a variety of events held in various locations at the Andy Griffith Museum and Playhouse.
Other events included interactive music and storytelling programs, yoga and nature, a guided garden tour, and free showings of Disney’s “A Bug’s Life” at the Historic Earle Theatre.
SAC Director Tanya Jones said the idea for the event was built around plans for a presentation by award-winning nature photographer Bill Lea, of Asheville.
Lea’s scheduled event happened to coincide with a weekend of art and nature events the council is co-sponsoring at the Minglewood Farm & Nature Preserve in Westfield, the kickoff to the “Arts Alive” summer program, which this year’s theme is art and nature.
Another tie-in is the performance of the play “Into the Woods” scheduled at the playhouse for the weekend of June 18.
Jones did some research and found that art and nature-themed festivals are popular in different communities, so they decided to give it a shot.
“It’s the first time we’ve done the art and nature event and I think we’ll definitely do it again,” she said. “The idea is a family focus, and that’s actually what happened today. We’ve had young parents with kids, grandparents with kids and adults.”
Both locals and visitors dropped in.
Lea was billed as the headliner of the event.
He led a presentation titled “The Wonder & Art of the Black Bear,” at the Earle on Saturday at 3:30, which was hosted by the Mount Airy Photography Club, and a Nature Photography Worshop for more serious photographers at 5 p.m.
“Always when you start something like this, flexibility is key,” Jones said.
The hot sun drove many of the originally intended outdoor events inside, but still, “we’ve been extremely busy here,” Jones said. “There’s been constant, steady traffic.”
The photo gallery cool and comfortable for those dropping in on Ellis’s painting workshop, such as Tammy and David Williams, of Mount Airy.
“We just love anything the playhouse offers,” said Tammy Williams. “It’s always eventful and plugged into the community.”
The couple had brought their 7-year-old son Seth to see the local beekeeper and storyteller Vicky Town’s interactive “Bee’s Knees” program and craft, which began at 10 a.m.
“It was wonderful,” Tammy Williams said. “She’s hilarious.”
Williams asked her husband and friend, Andrew Brown, how to describe Town.
The men answered at the same time.
“Energetic,” David Williams said.
“Animated,” said Brown.
Tammy Williams said Town “gave a very good demonstration” with (non-populated) beehives and a smoker and led the children in a craft project.
After the show, the group wandered into the photo gallery where Seth Williams and Brown’s children, Beau and Bella Brown, worked on a “Critter Painting” with Ellis.
“We’re just blessed to have such talented people in our area,” Tammy Williams said.
Sunday events include:
• “A Bug’s Life” movie at the Historic Earle Theatre, free shows, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Cell phone photography scavenger hunt at Minglewood Farm & Nature Preserve, 1-4 p.m.
• Sunday Supper at Minglewood with Chef Christ Wishart, $75 per person, call 336-351-2945 for reservation.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.