2018-06-14 / Front Page

Fulton County In Bloom To Feature Artist Kellie Mele

By Cassidy Pittman

Kellie Mele Kellie Mele In two weeks’ time, on July 1, Fulton County’s first-ever Fulton County in Bloom Festival (FCBF) will make its debut. Wanting to be a part of something beautiful, the FCBF organizers are encouraging full county participation in brightening the community with flowers that represent every single member of the Fulton County community. Families, businesses, townships, and everyone else are encouraged to set flowers out at their closest public space, representing each valued life there. This can include people, passed loved ones, pets, etc.

The art show, which will run from July 2 to July 13 at the Fulton County Library’s ‘green room,’ will showcase the work of four or more local artists. This week’s featured artist is Kellie Mele of Licking Creek Township.

Having been impassioned by art since she was a child, Mele has built a life that keeps her time and family embedded in art and positivity. After college, Mele took a position teaching art at a Hagerstown elementary school. A few years later, when her daughters Abeline and Juniper arrived, she transitioned into a part-time position as a liaison between Washington County, Md. schools and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. It is a position she treasures, because it allows her to stay close to her love of art while being able to raise her daughters. She also paints and sells her art independently, and is building her organic baby product line, Lavender Moon, LLC, which locals affectionately call ‘baby moonshine’ because of the soothing effect the lavender-based products have on infants.

The Fulton County in Bloom has raised its mural for its two-week festival July 1-14! Pictured are artists Kellie Mele and David Henry. The Fulton County in Bloom has raised its mural for its two-week festival July 1-14! Pictured are artists Kellie Mele and David Henry. Mele’s passion stems from the support and influence of her beloved mother, Margaret Mary, husband Michael Mele, and her two daughters, Abilene and Juniper.

“My girls make my work a little more playful,” she explained in her interview when talking about her daughters. “They bring more color and life to everything.”

Much like last week’s featured artist, David Henry, Mele’s work tends to be seasonal. In the spring and summer, she moves more into watercolors because of all the outdoor art projects and moves toward heavy acrylic in the fall and winter when the weather pushes her indoors.

Along with Henry, Mele was one of the two artists who volunteered their time to create the Fulton County in Bloom mural, which is hung on the white fence on Lincoln Way West by BB&T Bank. When asked about her inspiration for the mural, she replied, “We came to the table with some different ideas, and we worked very well together. We were able to read each other’s minds a little bit to see what’s going to work where and we were able to weave our ideas together, and we both came out pretty happy with it. I was excited to work with him because I’ve seen his stuff, and I thought, wow! I get to work with him!”

Mele’s hope is that the FCBF and the mural itself create a sense of community through a transformation of space.

“I can see this (FCBF) getting bigger and encouraging more artists to be involved in the future. Lin Henry pulled me into this project, and she let me know that she wanted to create a reason for people to gather and create a community, and I definitely wanted to be a part of that.”

Aside from her work with the FCBF, Mele has been celebrated for several large paintings, such as a mural that resides in the Salem Avenue Elementary School library in Hagerstown, multiple children’s rooms, and a large-scale community balloon-based project, which was sold at a school fundraiser for $5,000. Her other artistic successes include her online gallery through artfinder.com, word of mouth sales, and even international sales that have taken her art work to the U.K. and Canada.

In the future, Mele hopes to help build a more solid art community within the county. “We have an art council right now, and it’s great. We just have to get more people involved and have more frequent meetings. The talent is definitely out there.”

For aspiring artists, she gives the following advice: “Remember who you are. It’s part of you. That’s part of your identity, and you’re not doing yourself or the world any favors by stifling it. We all have a skillset, and it’s not always a raw talent, but it is a skillset and a need to create ... We all need to bring our skillsets together and build our community up. That’s your ‘essence’.”

Along with the art show, FCBF will also feature a Flower Power Art Contest, Best Bloomin’ Township, Prettiest Porch, Best Business Display, Best Children’s Garden, and Best Church Garden, as well as activities for children.

More information about FCBF will be released throughout June.

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