By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Public AffairsApril 30, 2013
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Artists from around the community came together in support of the Hohenfels Community and Spouses Club's fund raising event, Celebration of the Arts (COTA), held here April 20.
"COTA started three years ago when a young Eagle scout, Clinton Schwarz, partnered with our club. This event was started to foster the arts program in the school. Out of that came the Schwarz Fine Arts Foundation (SFAF) and the HCSC's love of supporting artists," said Heather Rowley, HCSC president.
The celebration was an all day affair, beginning with an arts and craft fair at the Hohenfels Middle/High School great hall. Local artisans filled booths with hand crafted items such as postcards, stuffed animals, knitted and crocheted items and even furniture.
"This year COTA's vision was to showcase our local Hohenfels community artists, big, small, spouse or Soldier," said Rowley.
"We're hoping people will be interested in the art we have to offer because it's coming from local artists and there are some amazing pieces," said Christel Breeze, coordinator for this year's COTA.
Local photographers and artists displayed their work and offered their services for such things as portrait photos or commissioned paintings.
Athena Hills, a 14 year old freshman at HMHS, is a self taught artist who specializes in "anime," the Japanese comic book style that has become so popular in the past decade. She had several paintings for sale including a special print she created for COTA featuring "Megurine Luka," one of several mascots for a Japanese voice synthesizing computer program.
"I love the color of (Luka's) hair which reminds me of cherry blossoms, so with the sudden coming of spring I decided to do a painting combining the two," said Hills.
Throughout the fair, various groups provided entertainment and performances on stage. Hohenfels Elementary School students Bennett Schmid and Julianna Hills sang to the musical accompaniment of Jill Ann Hills, and the Hohenfels Training Area Taekwondo team demonstrated forms and board breaking.
While some may not recognize how taekwondo fits into a celebration of the arts, instructor Michael Green explained that not only are the forms representative of hundreds of years of tradition, but to learn them requires grace, concentration, commitment and study.
"It's as much an art as dancing or anything else," he said.
Various organizations donated art-themed baskets for auction and even professional services such as dance instructions and craft classes.
The festival continued at an evening gala held at the Zone where the auction continued along with a spectacular buffet of fine foods and decadent desserts.
Upstairs, a student museum featured a selection of artwork created by HMHS students who are members of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS), the SFAF and attendees of Creative Connections.
"The SFAF started the whole kit and caboodle three years ago, and the spirit of the SFAF continues and our association with the students and the art studio at HMHS," said Breeze.
"I'm extremely pleased with the fact that SFAF is still up running in Hohenfels," said Clinton Schwarz, founder of the foundation, who now resides in Norway. "The difference it makes within the community and school is transparent in the fact that its beneficiaries continue to maintain the local committee. That alone makes the whole effort worth it."
This is the first year that the NAHS has had a chapter at Hohenfels. The program is designed to inspire and recognize students who have shown an outstanding ability and interest in art and to bring art education to the attention of the school and community.
"In our pioneer year we've had 30 members join," said Michele Mihanovich-Franz, HMHS art teacher. "I'm very pleased that so many positive comments have come my way concerning the student museum at COTA. As always, I'm an extremely proud art teacher."
In addition to the museum, music, food and fun, the main event of the evening gala was the live auction.
"The craft fair today was just a sample of what our community has to offer," said Rowley.
Attendees bid on paintings, sculptures, services, and hand crafted home décor items. Rowley said that the auction was designed to showcase the community's artists, especially some of Hohenfels' talented Soldier artists.
"The talent that is resident in the community is amazing," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange, Jr., U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels commander. "People came prepared to support their community's fund raising efforts and the generosity of those bidding on items, as well as the artists who donated their work, was awe inspiring."
The day's event netted upwards of $8,000 which will go back to the community in the form of grants and scholarships.
"This may come as a surprise, but actually we are a "giving club," not just a coffee or wine drinking club," said Rowley. "The proceeds from tonight will … support our local community and our students, both high school and adult learners."