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By Laura Matson Hahn
The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts 49th Annual Fine Arts Festival was a weekend-long love fest. The 160 artists filled historic Second Street with a wide range of exciting art, presenting innovative and creative handmade objects of art to suit every taste. From painting to sculptures to wood and jewelery and fiber and glass and ceramic, the styles of art swung from traditional to abstract.
There was also an abundance of hearts populating every booth tag as festival visitors pressed those heart stickers on the booths with art that most inspired their heart.
Early on Saturday, festival judge Matthew McLendon from Sarasota’s Ringling Museum, began his tour of each booth to select the winners for this years show. The Festival Committee has no more control of the judge’s selections than it does the weather, thus each year there are usually surprises and disappointments.
Matthew McLendon is the curator of the Modern and Contemporary collection for the museum, thus some of his choices were not surprising. However he was consistent in his measure of all prize winners, selecting work that possessed outstanding technical skill, even when it was not his preference of art. And as a younger judge, his selections might be indicators of a contemporary emerging direction of art.
OFCA provides $10,000 in prize money to the juried artists, distributed over 11 Excellence Awards, one Creativity Award, Best 3-Dimensional, Best 2-Dimensional and Best In Show. The awards were presented Saturday evening at a reception sponsored by the Cedar Key Arts Center.
The festival was a great success with balmy temperatures and sunny skies on Saturday bringing a large crowd who easily ambled along the art-filled streets and enjoyed a soothing atmosphere at City Park with local food booths, informational booths and cool tunes by DJ Solutions. Our music sponsor, Citrus Kia automotive, also had a great day showing off the sleek Kia Sorrento by the park gazebo. Storytellers Bob Patterson and Kaye Byrns entertained the crowd.
In the main art section, hot pedestrians and artist had their thirst quenched by Culligan Water who supplied free samples of their delicious spring water. While the Sunday morning skies gave the artists some concern, the cloudy/sunny weather held and visitors came for a delightful day until about 3:30 when it became apparent it was time to pack up.
Special thanks to all the volunteers who make the festival possible - registering the artists, managing the information booth, being block captains, serving Sunday breakfast and presenting the Saturday night reception. Also, to our title sponsor, Palms Medical Group, who has supported the festival for four year now. Many thanks for everyone who came to enjoy the inspiration found in fine art and craft.
The 2014 Festival is scheduled for the same second weekend next year: April 12-13. We look forward to sharing more great artists with you then.