Art festival brings fun to community, support to UM’s Lowe Art Museum

Posted February 1, 2016


Laughter, chatters of excitement, and smells of fresh cuisine from various food stands filled the air as spectators enjoyed the variety of artwork displayed at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art, a free, fun weekend for Miami residents and an opportunity to support the Lowe Art Museum.

Artists from across the country and around the world vied for spots to showcase their art in Miami’s Beaux Arts Festival of Art on Jan. 15-16. From watercolor paintings, to stainless steel sculptures, to whimsical blown glass, more than 220 exhibits were displayed at the festival.

Watercolor paintings by Best in Show winner Randy Eckard hang in a display at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art.

Watercolor paintings by Best in Show winner Randy Eckard hang in a display at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art (Photo by Breana Ross).

The festival began 65 years ago as a “clothesline sale,” an exhibit where artists would hang their work on clotheslines for the public to see.

At the time, the city of Miami did not have an art museum. The event was held in an effort to raise money to open a museum, eventually leading to the construction of the Lowe Art Museum.

Decades later, Miami’s booming art industry and eager art consumers make it a great location for artists to exhibit and sell pieces.

“If you’re going to be successful in this business, you have to travel where people want to buy art,” said Cheryl Ward, an artist from St. Augustine, Fla.

The festival also gives artists the opportunity to give back to the community. “We always donate a piece every year to their art auction,” Ward said. “We’re happy to do that. We like this show a lot, we do well, and we like to give back to shows we do well in.”

Artists have an opportunity to foster a love for art among spectators by sharing their work.

“It’s another component to us, not only making work and making a living and doing what we love to do but then also creating an atmosphere of people that want to collect art,” said Douglas Sigwarth, an artist from Wisconsin specializing in whimsical styles of blown glass.

The proceeds from the festival provide an extensive amount of funding for the Lowe Art Museum’s staff salaries, the art, and programming for children in the community. “Hands On” is one program for children that is funded by the proceeds of the festival. Through this program, children are bused from Title I schools to the Lowe Art Museum. Participants get to work on a project, learn about the museum, and take home a souvenir.

“For some of them, if not most, it is their first time at a gallery or museum in their life and that is a neat thing,” Past President of the Beaux Art Festival Becky McCarron said.

An art showcase, displaying the art of 150 young artists, is also funded by the proceeds and was held the Tuesday before the festival in the Lowe Art Museum.

“We’ve always focused on the professional artists and we thought, ‘Wow why don’t we look at the school art that’s in our community,’” Festival Co-Chair Linley Cilrobea said.

The effort to support young artists is appealing to many exhibiting artists who feel like their craft is dying.

“I think schools have been cutting back on art left and right over the last 10 to 20 years and I just think it is a mistake to not encourage the arts because surrounding ourselves with beautiful things and having the opportunity to be creative I think is something every kid should have the opportunity to do,” Best in Show winner Randy Eckard said.

The funding that the Beaux Art Festival provides for children’s art programming provides kids with the opportunity for art education and experiences.

The benefits of the festival also extended to the spectators, who received a free weekend of culture, entertainment, and fun. Food stands, face painting, and a spot for children to do art with professional instructors made the festival an event the whole family could enjoy.

“I like the atmosphere, it’s fun, it’s positive and upbeat,” veteran spectator Marti Beyer said.

Students particularly appreciate an event that helps to support the Lowe Art Museum on campus.

“The Lowe Art Museum definitely provides a lot of culture on campus and access for students who are interested in the creative arts,” UM student Rachel Gunder said. “I’ve been there several times for several of my classes and it’s just a beautiful museum. They definitely need support keeping it up, so it’s a great thing we’re doing.”

The weekend of art and culture at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art provided an opportunity for artists to share and sell their work, spectators to enjoy a free weekend of fun, and the Lowe Art Museum to receive support to continue making a difference in the lives of Miami residents, one work of art at a time.