A Barrage of art is in store

Published 10:31 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

This afternoon, tent after tent will be set up dishing out different chili recipes and ingredients during the Chili Fest.

Yet in the midst of all the chili sampling, there will be one tent that is completely different.

The Art Barrage tent, hosted by Joanne Bailey, will use the space to teach children about different art projects.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s a lot of fun,” Bailey said. “It’s a real passion of mine.”

Bailey has spent the past the past two decades getting children and the community excited about art.

For 14 years, she worked as the Art Director for the Ebenezer Arts and Sports League, held at Ebenezer United Methodist Church. In 2003, she began The Art Barrage as a way to teach art skills on location.

“I called it the Barrage, because I’m going to bombard you, I’m going to hit you hard with art,” Bailey said. “And I’m going to bring it to you for you to see.”

Bailey added that she was inspired to start the company in order to have an outlet to share her skills.

“When people come to me and they want to help, I tell them there is always something they can share with someone else,” Bailey said. “I wanted people to experience art throughout the Hampton Roads area, so that’s how it started.”

After the Barrage had been up and running, Bailey presented her work to members of the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Department. Initially, she was looking for a part-time position with the department. What she found instead was a unique role in some of the city’s biggest events.

“They didn’t have a job for me there, but they liked what I could do,” Bailey said. “They asked me to come freelance for them at various events. They would set up the tent, the table and the chairs, and I come work for the day. It’s been a really good thing, and I have really good niche there.”

Bailey’s Barrage has been on site for some of Suffolk’s premiere events, including Peanut Fest, the Eggstravaganza and today’s Chili Fest. She also has worked at other regional events such as the Bayou Boogaloo and Harborfest in Norfolk.

For each event, Bailey creates a special project for children to work on. Today, Bailey’s students will use actual peppers in their clay creations to add a personal touch. During the Eggstravaganza, the children made giant paper flowers, decorating them however they wished.

“Everything I do for the kids is an art project,” Bailey said. “It might be considered just a craft by some, but it’s a good craft.”