Event scheduled Saturday at local museum.


All around the U.S., when people use the word “Trekkie,” they are likely referencing the adoring fans of star ships and Vulcans. However, in April in Shawnee, the word “Trekkie” refers to something a bit different.


“We call the volunteers, visitors, artists, and performers (who contribute to Arts Trek) Arts Trekkies,” laughed Donna Merkt, event coordinator of Arts Trek, an annual arts festival that occurs at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art and St. Gregory's University. The event is today 10a.m.-4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.


When asked about the similarity to the oh-so-popular TV and film franchise, Merkt laughingly admitted that there is a correlation: “Trekkies are Star Trek fanatics, Arts Trekkies are art fanatics.”


Merkt explained that the festival was names Arts Trek because “trek” referenced the performance walk, a main feature during the festival.


“The performance walk really sets Arts Trek apart from other festivals,” said Merkt, explaining that visitors walk around in one large group, following a map, to see a variety of performances in unexpected locations. “'Trek' emphasizes the exploratory aspect of the walk, she explained.


Nine performances will be featured during this year's performance walk: Live Action painting by Joel Carmichael, a scene from “The Almost True Tale of Robin Hood” by St. Gregory's University Theater, interpretive dance by Visions Contemporary Dance Co., opera and musical theater performed by Ansley Elliot, cowboy poetry by Francine Roark Robison, Native American flute music by Reed Alder and Theresa Smith Galoob, Middle Eastern dance by A Mirage Dance Company, Irish dancing by All About Irish Performance Troupe, and an aerial dance performance by St. Gregory's University Spirit and Sole Dance Ensemble. The performance walk begins promptly at 10am at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art courtyard. A map of the performance walk can be picked up at the festival or downloaded from artstrek.org. Visitors are welcome to bring lawn chairs and should wear comfortable shoes.


During the remainder of the festival, additional performances will take place on three stages on the Museum grounds, and will feature: live music by Kacey Walkingstick, Native American dance by Sophia and Tyler Thurman, a scene from Disney's Aladdin Jr. by Creative Magic and the Ritz Theater, live jazz by Lost and Found Orchestra, cello music by the OBU/Shawnee Cello Ensemble, as well as encore performances by artists featured on the performance walk.


In addition to fantastic performances, Art Trek presents a dazzling array of visual arts for exhibit and sale: paintings, photography, hand-thrown ceramics, hand-crafted jewelry, textiles, leather works, and even chain mail. One of the most interesting aspects of the festival is the many artists who demonstrate their techniques for visitors to observe.


“The mission of the museum is to engage our audiences with art, so education is a primary focus,” said Merkt. “All of the Arts Trek artists are strongly encouraged to create art at their booths and share their techniques, knowledge, and creativity with festival visitors.”


During the festival, Julie Blackstone of Oklahoma Baptist University Visual Arts demonstrates weaving on a loom, Tim Sullivan of St. Gregory's University Visual Arts (SGUVA) demonstrates throwing pottery on a wheel, Sheryl Cozad (SGUVA) demonstrates portrait drawing, and Kathy Barry a docent at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, demonstrates printmaking on a press.


Other visual artists and exhibitors participating in the festival include: Kelly Berry, Leslie Anne Martin, Jude Delaney, Mireille Damicone, Roy Alba, Vernon Hatley, William Denney, Barbara Hertz, Lovebug, Amena Butler, Jason Reimer, J. Kent Stewart, Linda Dixon, Broadway Arts, Becky Emerson Carlberg, Sister Eugenia Brown, PAPCO (Plein Air Painters of Central Oklahoma), Bob Kenworthy, Gaylon Thompson, Gilbert Tampkins, Dea Scales, Eric Spiegel, Buchanan Family, Pauline Asbury, Cowboys and Indians Wood Carvers, R.C.Focseneanu Reversed Glass Icons, Ruth Lampi, The Purple Tree, Henna by Jigisha Patel

Elusive Unicorn Designs, Johnny Strech, and the National Institute on Developmental Delays.


Those who prefer to make art rather than see art will have the chance to get their hands dirty at Arts Trek. Twenty-four individuals, businesses, and organizations act as Helping Hands sponsors for the festival and offer free make-and-take art projects for children (though adults may also take part). Activities include making masks and puppets, designing toy cars, creating paper helicopters and bobble-head dogs, vegetable stamping, blowing giant bubbles, coloring wind chimes, and making cards for American soldiers.


Visitors can bring their old eyeglasses to the Lion's Club booth to be recycled for those in need.


Additional Arts Trek activities include a free bounce house and face painting and the special appearances of pilot Jim Gardner with the Bob Mills Skynews9 HD helicopter and the Storm Tracker 9 (weather permitting).