Ready, set, Art Dash!
Guests at the eighth annual Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival VIP Party Friday night had a fantastic time getting the highly anticipated weekend-long arts festival off to a great start.
The fete at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott’s Convention Center drew a fun-loving crowd who were wowed by magician and comedian Curt Miller before they started bidding for live auction items including a Hubbell & Hudson cooking class for 10 and featured artist Rick Loudermilk’s cover painting of whimsical geometric trees, “Kaleidoscope on the Waterway.” The high point of the party was the range of wonderful work on display for the Art Dash.
A party guests' vote for their favorite displayed piece — the 2013 People’s Choice Artist award — was introduced this year, and the winner was local wildlife artist and photographer Vickie McMillan, whose piece was added to the night’s live auction items.
“My experience here last year was that the community was really supportive of the artists. They’re really interested in what we do.”
Representing many of the mediums featured at the festival itself this weekend, 150-plus artist-donated pieces were set up together in a temporary gallery for partygoers’ perusal before the Art Dash where, every minute on the minute, different guests with Art Dash tickets whose numbers were called took an allotted 60 seconds to add a beautiful new piece of art to their home at a fraction of its cost while contributing to the night’s entertainment.
Guests hurried from their drink-in-hand conversation into the art area, where they had 60 seconds to either swipe their still-available chosen piece or quickly pick another and then rush back out, prize in hand. The coveted first three numbers to be called to the Art Dash were popular live auction items.
Many of the artists whose work contributed to the Dash attended the party. Returning artist Josh Coté is glad to be back: “My experience here last year was that the community was really supportive of the artists. They’re really interested in what we do.”
Coté and wife Pam live in a converted a water treatment plant, two 50-foot steel water tanks made into a home and studio in Louisiana, Missouri: “It’s like living in a sculpture!” he says.
In its eighth year, the weekend-long Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival (WWAF) features 218 artists and is expected to attract 15,000 visitors. ArtFair Source Book, the definitive guide to American juried fine art and craft fairs, ranks the WWAF as one of the Top 100 Art Festivals in the United States, listing it at a solid nine for fine art sales out of 600 or so such festivals nationwide.
“The spectrum of art and fine craftwork displayed at The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival appeals to a wide range of tastes and budgets,” festival director Jenny Wright says. Those pieces include jewelry, fiber and textile arts, woodwork, metalwork, leather tooling, ceramics, drawings, watercolor, furniture, glassware, pastels, photography, printmaking, sculptures, mixed media in 2D and 3D, digital pieces and paintings. Booth after booth is lined up for leisurely perusing along Town Green Park and next to the walkable Waterway.
Performance lineups on two stages, the Palette Café Stage overlooking the Woodlands Waterway, and the Arts and Culture in Montgomery County Stage, provide live entertainment all weekend long. Foodies too have a stage, The Art of Food Tent, presented by Hubbell & Hudson, which features local chefs’ live demonstrations of signature dishes from cakes to ceviche. Food vendors include local favorites La Lupita, Mama J’s BBQ and Zunum as well as Russo’s New York Pizzeria and Nothing Bundt Cakes.
Children may indulge in their own variety of arts and crafts projects at Artopoly with volunteers from the Woodlands Art League. In its second year, the Early Inspiration Gallery in the Artopoly area allows kids aged 4 to 13 to experience collecting art themselves: They may browse artwork donated by local high school students and art teachers in the tent, and then chose to buy a piece they really like for the price of $5. Proceeds go to purchase art supplies for Title 1 schools.
The WWAF is presented by the not-for-profit Woodlands Waterway Arts Council. Proceeds from the both the VIP Party and the Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival go through its program BAM! Because Art Matters to encourage, support, and promote regional performing and visual arts through community outreach and education.
The Festival concludes on Sunday with hours running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. See woodlandsartsfestival.com for a quick overview, directions and parking information and to buy tickets. Adult tickets are $10 for one day, or $15 for both days. Kids 12 and under are admitted free.