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South St. Art Festival

This weekend, Downtown Arlington will again welcome the South St. Art Festival. It can’t come soon enough. Art festivals are kind of my thing.

I’ve been going to art festivals since I was a kid. Mom used to take me to a little festival that would pop up every fall on the west side of our hometown. For a weekend, it would utterly transform that two-block area into a creative and vibrant space. People flocked to it.

Mom and I would stroll through the booths, commenting on the pretty pictures and interesting sculptures. She always found the perfect treasure to bring home for a certain wall or curio cabinet. Often she would ask an artist how in the world he or she ever came up with such an interesting idea or technique. As a child who spent much of my free time drawing, I gobbled this up. Adults who liked to draw and create just like me? Incredible.

The South St. Art Festival also brings people together but on a larger scale. This juried show draws artists not only from Texas but from as far away as Georgia, Colorado and Kansas. Their works range from beautiful glass and jewelry to intricate ceramics and sculpture to drawing, painting, photography and more.

Steve Moya, artist and co-producer of the festival, said, “The focus is about creating an environment where art lovers and collectors can come together that enjoy seeing and buying quality, affordable art from professional artists.”

I’ve attended SSAF since its inception three years ago, and I really like the vibe. It’s not too big, not too small; plenty of space to linger and really take in the art. It’s the kind of show where you’ll bump into your neighbors and friends while also attracting visitors from miles away. The Festival’s move to a new location this year -- adjacent to the Levitt Pavilion -- makes ultimate sense, blending art and music non-stop throughout the weekend.

“Our average attendance has been 7,500 over the 3 days of the festival,” Moya said, “and this year we expect to have over 10,000 due to our new location. With all the new development that has happened and will be happening over the next few years, SSAF is and will continue to be an important piece of the vision of a thriving downtown.”

So as you’ve guessed, I’m going to South St. Art Festival this weekend. But this time, I’m going to experience the festival in a new and different way. That’s because, instead of attending the festival as a guest, I’m one of the artists who will be showing and selling my work. Mom would be thrilled!

mat cutterHow does an artist prepare for a festival? My time has been spent printing photos (all limited editions), hand-cutting mats, framing my pieces, and preparing my exhibit space: walls, tent, display bins, the works. My husband and I haven’t eaten at the dining room table for weeks – my four foot mat cutter doesn’t fit anywhere else – and my studio is filling with completed works, wrapped lovingly for transport.

Put another way, my fellow artists and I are each building a complete 10” x 10” gallery for a three-day show. And I for one can’t wait to see you there! Bring your mom.

South St. Art Festival is Friday through Sunday, September 25-27. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome. Visit the festival website for hours, food vendor information, parking and other details.

Amy Schultz is a communications professional, photographer/artist, writer, downtown Arlington enthusiast and a regular contributor to the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation blog.