Posted February 4, 2016
By ROBYN SHAPIRO
Artists, volunteers and spectators from across the nation gathered in Coral Gables, Fla, this year for the 65th annual Beaux Arts Festival. While their motives were different their interests were the same, “for the love of art” as co-chair of the festival’s Lynley Ciorobea said.
The Beaux Arts Group was originally founded to fund raise for the Lowe Art Museum, but in more recent years its purpose is to provide more art exposure and awareness in the greater Miami community.
Ciorobea is one of the 60 highly dedicated volunteers who ran an efficient and beautiful art festival. While more than 125 women are involved in the organization, 60 of them are selected into different committees to run the festival.
Ciorobea is a property realtor who donates her time along with her other associates for the love of art and desire to revitalize it in today’s culture.
The Beaux Arts Organization not only raised money for the museum but also for summer classes and camps for children. Ciorobera and other members of the community believe children should have the opportunity to explore their creativity, and that these camps and classes allow them to have a more “hands on experience.”
Beaux Arts also fundraises for a program called “HandsOn!” where elementary students in Title 1 schools are able to visit the Lowe Art Museum free of charge and with free transportation.
The Beaux Arts Festival started the Student Art Showcase 15 years ago, allowing middle and high school students of the Miami area to submit their art in a juried contest. The finalists and winners art are displayed in the Lowe Art Museum during that weekend. The winners receive cash prizes and all participants are invited to a reception for their work. Ciorobea and the Lowe Art community believe that by letting the students art “have more exposure” it will encourage students to embrace the field.
Prior to the Beaux Arts Festival, the organization offers the Beaux Arts Ball, which is the oldest costume ball in South Florida. With varied themes every year, this event provides for some of the money used during the festival.
As one of the finest art shows in South Florida, the Beaux Art Festival has a competitive application process for prospective artists. Artists from around the nation must send in their applications by Sept. 30, in order to be judged and rated by five unaffiliated art critics in one of 10 media such as ceramics, wood and glass.
Once selected for the show the artists travel to UM to display their work for sale that weekend. Best in Show, first place and second place are awarded cash prizes, from the previously fund-raised $17,500 underwritten by members.
This year’s Best in Show winner won a $2,600 cast prize as well as esteemed recognition and continued exposure in the Miami area. Originally from North Carolina, Randy Eckard visited Vermont in his early 20s and saw the topography of the land and the quaintness of the New England homes and described it as a “painter’s paradise”.
He said that he found the farmhouses of New England to embody “elegance with functionality” that truly made the New England land and culture unique and beautiful.
Though mostly a self-taught man, he is inspired by the work of Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth’s dry brush technique allows for a scratchier or more textured look rather than the fluid smooth stroke of a wet paintbrush. Eckard uses this technique in addition to his precise color pencil in order to capture light on a house or landscape. Eckard said his paintings “represent his personality”.
He studied commercial art and advertising in Ringling College in Sarasota, but after a few years of working for different companies, he decided to do his own free lancing work and peruse his individual creativity.
Today, he owns an art gallery in Blue Hill, Maine, and travels to about five festivals a year to expose his work. He will continue to be in Florida for a few more weeks as he travels to two more festivals after this one in Smyrna Beach and Winter Park.
The artist whose work was featured on the cover of the pamphlet this year was that of Christine Lyons. Working mostly with a palette knife, her paintings are vibrant and unique in their texture and color. “I would go find old shutters or doors and paint on those” Lyons said about her beginnings as a painter. As her paintings progressed she moved to canvases. She now lives in Naples, Fla with her husband and child and has opened a new gallery in Naples, with other galleries in Fernandina Beach, Fla, and Athens, Ga.
The Beaux Arts Festival has raised more than $1.5 million to the University of Miami as well as contributing to the Lowe Art Museum. As a philanthropic organization, its volunteers and those apart of it are devoted to continuing to make art a part of the next generation’s lifestyle.