Brace yourself: The artists are coming.
Painters, photographers, ceramicists and many others from throughout the state will find their way to Winter Park’s Central Park as they celebrate a big weekend for the arts at the 44th annual Autumn Art Festival.
Since its inception in 1973 on the campus of Rollins College, the festival has blossomed into an important event that showcases the talents and work of both local and statewide artists.
“This year, we had (more than) 400 applications, which was the most that we’ve ever had, and we could only accept 185 artists,” said Katherine Keller, marketing and communications director for the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, the host of the festival. “So, it really is the most talented of our applicant groups, and we’re just excited to welcome them here.”
Among those 185 artists, more than a dozen are from the Winter Park area — including Bernard Martin, a Winter Park local who was chosen as this year’s poster artist for the event.
Originally from Niagara Falls, New York, Martin has been painting for as long as he can remember and studied art at Creighton University and the Joslyn Art Museum — both located in Omaha, Nebraska.
“It’s nice to be recognized for traditional work, and it (the work chosen for the poster) is a traditional painting,” Martin said.
Martin works in a style known as contemporary impressionism, defined by its quick and visible brushstrokes, and an emphasis on capturing the passage of time. It’s a style that harkens back to the late 19th century when French artists such as Edgar Degas and Claude Monet dominated the scene.
Done with a variety of paint-based mediums — including oil, pastel, and watercolors — many of Martin’s paintings feature a variety of subjects such as dancers, people, landscapes and island culture.
Of his usual subjects, painting dancers and ballerinas is a topic Martin holds the closest to him as an artist and as a person.
“I’ve always painted and drawn, and I’m just inspired by what I see,” Martin said. “My sister was a ballerina dancer — she danced at the White House, in fact — and so I’ve always been around dance with her and stuff, so I see that and I draw and paint that a lot.”
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Artists will be set up in tents wrapped around Central Park and alongside Park Avenue to showcase their work for interested buyers — and for those that just want to take in the arts. Admission is free, although the chamber is also offering two special packages that visitors can buy to get special VIP treatment.
While the event itself is a means to bring art to the community and for local artists to showcase their work, it’s also a juried show — so not only will the festival give artists a chance to get their work out into the public, but they also will have the opportunity to win awards.
“We’ll have blind jurors, so we won’t tell anyone who they are, but they’ll be professionals, and then we will also have judges who are professional artists, and they’ll be there to decide who wins awards at the actual show,” said Ally Stricker, director of events for the chamber.
Along with the art, the event will include a slew of different food vendors and live entertainment for visitors to enjoy. For the kids, Crealde will have a tent set up for art workshops so children can make and learn about art.
Ultimately, the goal is that visitors will come in and enjoy themselves as they support the arts — which will hopefully also spark inspiration on multiple levels.
“We think there is a lot to offer from our festival — whether you’re looking to add to your art collection, or if you’re just coming to stroll among the booths and enjoy a weekend among your friends and family,” Keller said. “We’re pretty sure you’ll be inspired by that experience — by the art that’s there and by the sense of community that we have in Winter Park.”