Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Visual Arts Festival in Baltimore

Apparently there's a new art festival in Baltimore, in addition to ArtScape. Would have been nice to hear about it when they were selecting participants....

Oh, and Baltimore's unesteemed mayor Sheila Dixon is another of many people who uses the word "phenomenal" incorrectly. I wouldn't use it to describe the works of DaVinci, much less a bunch of today's artists.

By Tim Smith | Tim.Smith@baltsun.com
August 11, 2009

A month after the annual Artscape drew record crowds to the streets around Penn Station and MICA, the Inner Harbor Art Festival will make its debut, spread out in two areas: the Power Plant near the National Aquarium and Power Plant Live a couple of blocks north. The free outdoor event will be held Aug. 22 and 23.

Announcing the new venture at a news conference Monday morning in front of the Power Plant, Mayor Sheila Dixon described as "phenomenal" the group of 150 artists, regional and national, who will be offering more than $15 million worth of creative work for sale.

Howard Alan Events, the Florida-based company behind the festival, has a strong track record for producing popular art and craft shows around the country over the past 25 years. Among the annual projects are the Las Olas Art Fair in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which will mark its 22nd year in October, and the Chicago Tribune Magnificent Mile Art Festival, which marked its 18th last month.

Like those events, the Inner Harbor Art Festival is a juried show, with participating artists chosen by a panel. Painting, sculpture and photography will be represented, along with jewelry and ceramics. (Quality, of course, can range as widely as the prices at such shows.)

Although the Inner Harbor Art Festival comes close on the heels of Artscape, it is not a last-minute thing.

"Each show is planned well in advance, but it has been our experience that it is best to publicize the event closer to the date so it is fresh in the public's mind," said AnaBelle Dweck, publicist for Howard Alan Events. "In addition, we felt it important to wait to make this announcement because we wanted to avoid conflicts and distance ourselves from Artscape."

Dixon, in a brief interview after the news conference, distinguished it from Artscape. "This is different," she said. "Artscape is not only visual art, but has a lot of live music. This will focus just on art."

The mayor also pointed out the openness of the festival. "Here you can take time with the artists and find out what inspired them," she said.

That's one of the attractions for Monkton photographer Bob Paulding, whose nature-focused work will be included in the Inner Harbor show. "You get a chance to meet people who are buying your art, which is really great," he said.

Jane Andrle Gillete, a watercolorist in Alexandria, Va., has exhibited at several of Alan's shows. "He is genuinely interested in art and artists," she said. "And he tries to integrate his festivals into the community, to take the community to heart. It's not just a mercenary thing."

If all goes well, the weather will not be as oppressive as it was for Monday's news conference.

"This could be a sweltering show," Paulding said, adding with a laugh: "I might be in Speedos."

The Inner Harbor Art Festival takes place Aug. 22-23 at the Power Plant, 601 E Pratt St., and Power Plant Live, 34 Market Place. Admission is free. Go to artfestival.com.


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