Fine Arts Festival: 50th Year Will Be Biggest, Best

This weekend, Westport welcomes the 50th annual Fine Arts Festival.

That’s an alliterative way of describing one of our town’s greatest annual events.

But we can add 2 other “f” words: “fun” and “family.”

Despite its name, the Fine Arts Festival is not a leave-your-kids-home thing. Children and teenagers are absolutely welcome. In addition to seeing very cool paintings, photos, sculptures and more, there are activities especially designed for them.

There’s food and music too, for everyone. The arts take many forms, and on Saturday and Sunday Westport celebrates all of them.

The Festival began half a century ago, as a Main Street “art show.” Over the years it grew to encompass many more mediums. It morphed to Parker Harding Plaza, then moved back to Main Street. (And moved from the sweltering mid-July date to the much more pleasurable Memorial Day weekend.)

Under the direction of the Westport Downtown Association, the Fine Arts Festival has attracted top artists from all over the East. It’s added kids’ activities, and special touches like a Saturday night artists’ reception.

But it retains that special balance: a community event where you’ll marvel at the talent, meet your neighbors, have tons of fun, and be reminded that Westport was, and still is, an artists’ town.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

The 150 artists set up on Main and Elm Streets. Nearby, the Westport Artists’ Collective will organize a painting project. Youngsters can contribute to one of 8 pieces. They’ll look even cooler when they’re all connected, into one large mural.

It will then be placed in the alley near Anthropologie. Years from now — at the 75th Fine Arts Festival — grown-ups can tell their own kids, “I painted that!”

On Sunday, youngsters can participate in Westport artist Jana Ireijo’s “Vanishing Mural” project. They’ll draw a huge sperm whale (Connecticut’s state animal), with chalk on the street. It will eventually disappear — emphasizing the fragility of the natural world.

A massive art installation — “The Hive” — takes place near Sigrid Schultz Plaza, off Elm Street. Two artists have designed the 30′ x 19′ x 8′ work — an enormous pollinator garden — specifically for this festival.

It will be built on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday people can walk through the honeycombs and floral elements, interact with it, and take photos. When the festival is over, it will be be disassembled — gone forever.

Pieces of the exhibit will be available to buy.

Other kids’ activities include a real piano from Suzuki School to play and paint; a One River School paper project; kite and fan decorating, and face painting.

The performing arts stage in Sigrid Schultz Plaza will feature singers, dancers, the School of Rock, Triple Threat Academy, Songs on the Sound and other talent, all weekend long. Performances will take place at other downtown sites too.

Meanwhile, all around, there is art. The Top 20 nationally ranked juried festival draws regional, national and international artists working in oil charcoal, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.

All artwork is available for purchase, in a wide range of prices.

For more information on the 50th Westport Downtown Association Fine Arts Festival — including a list of participating artists — click here.

(“06880” supports the arts — and we need your support to keep doing it. Please click here, to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)

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