The crisp air and the jingle-jangle of bells as sparkling lights are strewn across Park Avenue can signify only one thing in Tallahassee, the 36th annual Winter Festival is right around the holiday corner.
Tallahassee’s traditions tantalize with the music and art of its community members on display. Most may know of the local bands and artists performing on the downtown stages or the annual holiday show at Imagination Fountain in Cascade Park at the festival, which is set for Dec. 3 this year.
Still, one of this event’s hidden gems has captivated the heart of local educator and artist Barbara Davis for years, the Winter Festival’s Youth Art Exhibition at City Hall. 4
To claim the identity of an “artist” can be difficult at times, especially for young aspiring creatives. The reality is that art is a very personal expression that is judged by all while still being, at times, elitist and out of reach. Davis aims to make art accessible to all.
Thanks to Davis and other educators, students across Leon County can see their work hung in a gallery and feel pride in their artistry.
“I love Winter Fest. It’s honoring the student artists and honoring the teachers that take the time to teach them,” says Davis, reflecting on the importance of arts education.
“Some students live for the sports at their school, some kids live for the theater at their school, some kids live for the music … but the point is there is a little something for everyone, and kids gotta find their niche.”
For Davis, the Winter Festival provides a place for Leon county’s young artists to find their place and be celebrated for their artistry.
In 1991, Davis attended Florida State University for graduate school, eventually receiving an MFA in sculpture and photography. Like many students who graced the halls of the universities here, Davis fell in love with Tallahassee and stayed.
Davis says the beauty of Tallahassee’s small-town feel under the oak trees combined with great restaurants and art venues are what lured her to reside in the state’s capital. Davis is a sculptor by soul with a need to build things with her hands.
Still, Davis admits that since acquiring her first SLR camera in 1972, she has valued the beauty and artistry behind 2D art. “I carried a camera all around junior high and high school and photographed. I shot black and white film. I was six years in Botswana in the Peace Corps. I shot slide film; I have boxes of slides,” chuckles Davis. “So, I want a student to know what is good composition. I want them to know what good value is.”
Read the rest of the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.
Learn more about the Winter Festival.