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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Final "Art Around Towne" Includes Local Author Book Release

Art Around Towne, from 6-9 p.m. this Friday, is the perfect family event to celebrate the end of summer. Local artisans, amazing food, craft beers, and many local businesses, all accompanied by live music and a great weather forecast. For this Friday's event there will be a Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head party hosted by Fort Thomas Central gift shop.

Barb Thomas, owner of Fort Thomas Central gift shop, says, "There will be a best dressed parrot head contest starting at 7:30 p.m. on the front porch.  Winner takes homes a $50 gift certificate to shop at Fort Thomas Central. In addition, 15 North Pizza will offer a $5 Margarita special during the event."

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RELATED: "How to Art Around Towne"

Thomas started the "Art Around Towne" event three years ago in her parking lot and it has grown significantly each time. Now you can support local artisans and food vendors for about two blocks along both sides of the street starting at the corner of Highland Avenue and N. Fort Thomas Avenue, as well as in her parking lot.

Owners of The Art House, Parrish and Sharahn Monk helped transform Thomas' market to the city-sponsored Art Around Towne.

Thomas says, "This Friday there will be 12 artists/artisans on our lot offering pottery, jewelry, wood turning, children's books, local honey, handmade all-natural soaps, apparel by Trouvaille, the mobile boutique and so much more

Thomas has done a great job of reaching out to the Fort Thomas community to support local artisans and for the first time, Michele Wright, a local author and illustrator of children's books which combine fantasy and the joy of nature, will have a booth in her parking lot. Her books have been available in Thomas's gift shop for over a year. Wright, a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators), finished the books after several positive experiences volunteering at Ruth Moyer Elementary school where she talked to the children about nature. Along with being a professional writer, artist, and graphic designer, Wright is also a nature photographer.

The illustrations in the books combine Wright's nature photos with the main characters, each carefully crafted from natural items such as pine cones, nuts, and feathers. The characters are photographed and then combined in a high-end graphics software resulting in a totally unique and realistic illustration style. Characters include a fairy, mermaid, dragon, and phoenix as well as many animals. Detailed instructions for readers on how to create their own nature friends are at the end of each book.

Wright says, "Searching for these items is a wonderful way to get children to look closely as they’re hiking in the woods or walking along the beach. Once they see how magical nature is, I’m convinced they will feel a lifelong conviction to protect the environment."

All of the books have several photos in them that were taken in Fort Thomas, but every photo in the winter book is from the Landmark Tree Trail in Fort Thomas, taken after a heavy ice storm hit the area.

When asked to describe her books, Wright says, "In general, the books are about the beauty of nature surrounding a particular season, but each one also has an important life lesson that I hope gives children something to think about. The spring book is about being aware of the beauty of nature and living in the moment. The summer book explores the idea of a successful life and what actually gives your life meaning.The autumn book shows the reward of being open to change and what you learn from it. And the winter book deals with loss and how you can get through difficult times in your life by helping others and finding comfort in the natural world. My overall goal with this book series was to inspire children to protect nature and I’m hoping the illustrations will play a large part in that."

The owl (appears in the spring and the autumn book). the porcupine (from the spring book).

The turtle (from the spring book)

The fish (left) is from the spring book. The mermaid (right) is from the summer book.

The dragon (a main characters in the autumn book)

Shayla, the forest fairy (appears in all four books)

The deer (from the winter book)

The Phoenix (a main character from the winter book)

The bear family (from the summer book)

Wright said the biggest challenge in creating the whimsical characters was finding the right natural materials that resemble body parts but are proportional in size to the other body parts. Another challenge was finding two similar natural items. "I remember as a child, being skeptical when someone told me that no snowflake is alike. I can now attest that nothing is alike! Trying to find a duplicate of anything for eyes, wings, legs, etc. was impossible so I had to settle for two things that were similar."

Wright recently created an acrylic case to display all her nature creatures and it will be on display for the first time at this Friday's event.

Case without the lid showing all the creatures

For more information about Michele Wright's books, go to

There will be a wealth of talent at this Friday's event as well as an "Ugly Kitchen Contest" at The Studios of 33 North, and don't forget the Jimmy Buffet parrot head contest at Fort Thomas Central and the after party at 15 North from 9-11.

Art Around Towne is this Friday, August 19th, from 6 to 9 p.m.

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