Another Occasion to remember

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

An Occasion for the Arts returned over the weekend, and the threat of some light rain couldn’t stop the momentum of another year celebrating different types of art.

Bob Mandala, a Williamsburg-based sculptor who crafts wire trees from copper, made his fourth Occasion appearance.

“The crowds, particularly on Saturday, were quite good,” he said, adding that sales of his art improved slightly compared past years.

He also praised the streamlined setup process, which began Friday evening this year.

“It recognizes the artists in town who are in the show and brings awareness to the need for art in any community,” Mandala said, adding that it provides a chance to see different styles of artists coming from across the country as well. “I would like to see more local artists. This happens to be a particularly good community for providing opportunities for artists.”

Mandala praised organizers efforts to add more diversity to the Occasion, such as Friday night’s kickoff concert and a collaboration with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra at the Kimball Theatre.

“It brings in a whole different type of person,” he said. “Any collaborative effort, I think, is a real plus.”

Carine Gleiser, a Williamsburg resident originally from Colombia attending the Occasion with her husband, wouldn’t let Sunday’s clouds stop her from returning.

“We love art, different types of arts and crafts,” she said. It is very good. I think it has even more diverse types of art.

Gleiser lauded the opportunity to check out handmade wares like jewelry that vary from things you might find in a store.

Brian Sykes, a woodturner from Charlotte, North Carolina, thought that a recent barrage of bad news and the threat of bad weather affected the turnout somewhat.

“It’s okay, but not as great as previous years,” said Sykes, in his 12th year at the Occasion.

He praised the management behind the scenes and still found it to be a great event for the area.

“I think it’s a draw,” Sykes said. “It makes Williamsburg a destination this time of year.”

The artist said he’s confident he will be back next year.

Another longtime Occasion artist, wildlife photographer Ken Conger, celebrated the opportunity to see old friends, make new ones and show off his work to curious attendees.

“A lot of folks came out,” Conger said, adding that sales were in line with previous years. “From a business perspective, it was pretty good.”

Susan Wauhop turned out Sunday and said this year’s Occasion was similar to previous years, in a good way. It was a familiar whirlwind of various varieties of art and fine American craftsmanship.

“It’s just a great event,” she said.

The Occasion’s president and production coordinator, Stuart Honenberger, said crowds were strong this year.

“The Friday night party was well-attended,” he said, adding that the show’s expansion to include Friday allows the artists to engage more with the community. “The artist feedback was very positive.”

Honenberger said he’s already looking forward to the Occasion’s return next year. It is scheduled for Oct. 5-7, 2018.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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