More than 200 nationally acclaimed artists will once again fill lower King Street Sept. 10 and 11 for the city's third annual Festival of the Arts. They will be joined by a juried regional art exhibit, two days packed with the talents of performing artists, and a myriad of activities for families, children and history buffs.
Kicking off Alexandria's Fall for the Arts season, the 2005 free outdoor festival will run Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Produced by Howard Alan Events, Ltd., in cooperation with the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association, and the city, the event is listed among the Top Ten Art Events nationwide by Sunshine Artist magazine. Cadillac serves as a corporate sponsor.
"It is sold out and there are juried artists on the waiting list," said Laura Rod, director of marketing for the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association. Works from artists in all mediums will be on display and for sale throughout the six-block-long show which stretches from the Potomac River to Washington Street.
Works of artists from as far away as California and as close as acrylic specialist David Cochran of Alexandria will be on view and for sale. Some of the mediums featured, in addition to painting, include glass, jewelry, photography, sculpture, pottery, paper cutting, ceramics and stone.
Complementing the national show is the Regional Artists Juried Exhibition, featuring artists from throughout the metropolitan region. Sponsored by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, the competition will be held on Market Square.
"This is an exciting opportunity for local artists to reach a wide audience of art lovers," said Leon Sciosica, chairman of the festival's planning committee and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. Last year's festival drew an estimated 60,000 visitors.
Out of a list of 45 artists who applied to exhibit, the committee chose 35. A "Best of Show" and three "Honorable Mentions" will be announced during the weekend, according to Laura Overstreet, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association. Entrants will be juried by Tom Collins, executive director of the Baltimore Contemporary Museum, and Leigh Taylor Mickelson, the exhibition director of the Baltimore Clayworks.
Each artist will feature one selection of their work that will be available for purchase during the festival. Purchased pieces will remain on display until Sunday at 4 p.m. when they can be picked up by the buyer.
Alexandria artists participating in the regional exhibit are Luis Abril, Christine Bernstein, Paullavi Dhokai, Sonya Gavankar, Nancy Hannans, Linda Hesh, Karin Hickman, Paula Lantz, Angela Maray, K. Alexa Murphy, Patrick O'Brien, Cynthia Ray, Lisa Schumaier, Laurel Stevens Lukaszewski, Elaine Thorp, Joan Ulrich, and Noah Williams.
ANOTHER NEW FEATURE this year is a special section to exhibit the works of city and state officials who are also accomplished artists. "We have some very talented people like Marian Van Landingham and City Councilman Rob Krupicka," said Pat Miller, vice chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts.
This exhibit will also be held on Market Square as well as the wide array of performing artists who will entertain on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The latter will offer everything from vintage jazz, to country, to folk, blues and rock. Each group will be on stage from 45 minutes to one hour over the span of the festival.
Beside the various art exhibition offerings, attendees can also take in a wide array of events especially geared to children and families. These include:
* A "Hands-On History Tent" at Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax St., where children and their families can step back into the 18th century to play games, dress in colonial era costumes and learn period dances all for free. Tours of the historic house will remain at $4 for adults and $2 for children.
* Alexandria Art Safari has joined the festival this year. It will be held at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, September 10. Art demonstrations and hands-on activities will be held throughout the Art Center. Many favorite activities are again featured this year. They include the Clay Experience, Safari Murals, The Dye Project, Plaster Body Casting, a Scavenger Hunt, and papier maché animal sculpture, and demonstrations by Art Center artists.
* Alexandria's Archeological Museum will present "The Potter's Art" from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. "Children should arrive with big imaginations and wearing clothing that can get a little dirty," Overstreet said of this event. Most of the activities are appropriate for children from kindergarten age and above with parent supervision.
* Historic Christ Church, 118 N. Washington St., will host "Children in the Churchyard" Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Activities include face painting, mask making, creating beaded bracelets, and photo opportunities with a George Washington cut-out. Children will be invited to create American flags in memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
TO REACH OUT to the business community as well as offer attendees a personalized souvenir of the 2005 event, the festival has created the "Palette Program." Those attending can register to win dinner at one of Alexandria's popular restaurants by participating in this new feature.
"The Palette Program was designed to encourage festival patrons to visit some of Alexandria's many shops and restaurants during the festival weekend," Rod said. "And, no purchase is necessary."
Bouquets of colored balloons will be displayed at street corners along the festival route. To be eligible to enter the contest, festival patrons can pick up Palette entry forms at one of three information tables along King Street or at the Ramsey House Visitors Center, 221 King St.
As they visit local businesses displaying the "Palette Participant" sign, attendees can acquire colored stickers corresponding to the colors on their palette. Once a palette is filled with two stickers each of five colors and registration information completed, the palette will be entered into the drawing for a $75 gift certificate redeemable at participating restaurants, according to ACVA. Winners will be drawn on Monday, by ACVA personnel.
In addition to the array of cuisines offered by Alexandria's 400 plus eateries, Bon Appetit's 2004 Chef of the Year, Jose Andres of D.C.'s Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico, and Oyamel restaurants, will present a culinary demonstration of Spanish cooking featuring the expert use of olive oils. A sampling is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday. The location will be available at the information tables.
This year's Festival of the Arts offers something to interest every attendee regardless of age or artistic preference. It will be held rain or shine. For more information call the Ramsey House Visitors Center at 703-838-4200 or visit ACVA at www.FunSideofthePotomac.com.