Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't Miss the 80th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival

If you didn't make it to the 79th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park last weekend, you totally missed out on one of the greatest Atlanta festivals yet! Be sure to mark your calendars for next year's festival, even though I can't imagine how they're going to outdo this year's.

Did you know that the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is the country's third oldest fine arts festival? Did you know they hosted their first 5K Race this year? Did you know they held the first Family Friday event this year, which they hope will become an annual tradition. I would venture to guess that there's a lot more going on at this festival than most would fathom. Allow me, please, to share a few festival experiences with you... 

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Spoon
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Spoon

SPOON! I've had the great fortune of meeting and talking with quite a few artists at Atlanta festivals and that great fortune continued this past weekend. SPOON was the first artist I spoke with at this year's Atlanta Dogwood Festival and her kindness, humor and joviality set the tone for how much I would enjoy the festival.

Artwork by SPOON's minimalist approach is her tagline manifested: "Hand Painted Artwork Born From Narrative". Her work immediately captured my attention and I'm so glad I stopped and explored! I heard others speculating what her work means and what its intent was, but I heard from the artist herself! That she has an awesome sense of humor was a total bonus!

The allure of her work gave up the grand reward of recognition. Especially after SPOON showed me how her paintings appear on a mobile phone camera--immediately recognizable. The painting she demonstrated on was one of the unmistakable icon the marquee of The Fox Theatre.

SPOON is also a TedxPeachtree veteran. I love her response to the interview question, "What are three words to best describe you?" Her answer, "To be continued..." 

"Thank you, SPOON!" for making the festival another fantastic experience.

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | International Stage
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | International Stage

The award-winning International Stage, at The Dock on Lake Clara Meer, was hardly noticed its first year at the festival, but now is a major attraction of the three-day event. In the years I've been back in Atlanta, I recall only large crowds at the International Stage, and for good reason...the performances are fantastic!

On the first day of the festival, I had the honor to meet Miss Georgia World 2015, Talisha White, at a festival reception. With an enthusiastic desire for world travel, Talisha will be competing for the Miss World America title this summer. Good luck, Talisha!    

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Mike Sluder Metalworks
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Mike Sluder Metalworks

When I asked metalwork artist Mike Sluder about his technique, he shared that he doesn't force the bronze and copper that he works with, but instead he unhurriedly wields the metal in a manner that allows it to reveal a spectacular expression of itself. Okay, he probably wouldn't use those words, but that's how I've come to understand his amazing art.

I've had the pleasure of seeing quite a few works by Mike over the years, at shows, in a museum and at art festivals. I hope you get to, too. 

I appreciate that Mike has always been kind and hospitable and envy the collectors and corporate clients he creates for. Perhaps one day I'll have one to proudly display, or perhaps you'll invite me to the unveiling party when you bring home the work of art you commissioned from Mike Sluder Metalworks

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | The Great Chair Hack
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | The Great Chair Hack

The Great Chair Hack was back! Organized by Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) and the Atlanta Chapter of International Designers Society of America (IDSA), the competition strongly encourages creativity and imagination...and lots of fun! 

The teams of 2-4 members are given an unassembled IKEA chair and are challenged to create an "innovative solution". While the gentlemen pictured above didn't place in the top three at the competition--although I love the tiny, highly detailed playground they created--they were the only ones wearing team shirts, so they get the award for team spirit in my book.

All the teams looked like they were having a blast and their finished products were impressive! I'm not sure what the prize package was, but the trophy for the top winners were 3D-printed golden statuettes, courtesy of MODA.

I sincerely hope this event returns next again year...awesome fun!

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Dorian Edwards
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Dorian Edwards

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the artists featured in this year's Atlanta High School Art Exhibition (AHSAE), Dorian Edwards, pictured here with his magnificent mixed media work titled "Self Portrait". I chatted briefly with his very proud mother, too.

I must say that the talent represented in this exhibition gives me great hope for the future of artistic expression. A great majority of the work, including Dorian's, is gallery quality. I would not be the least bit surprised to see any of these student artists make it big! Indeed, the young artists whose work was on display were relatively few from the total number of applications received.

Also at the festival, and happy to share what they're doing for Atlanta and her visitors, were Atlanta Ballet (new show starts this Friday), Atlanta Opera, Center for Puppetry Arts (They had nine puppets onsite!), The Children's Museum of Atlanta, and Flux Projects...just to name a few! 

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort

Isn't Wendy gorgeous? She's one of the many, many wildlife creatures rescued and rehabilitated by AWARE, the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort. Poor thing had a broken wing. And her human companion was awesome! Thanks for sharing so much about AWARE and for sharing Wendy's story. 

I didn't know this, but it requires a blood test to learn the gender of owls, this species at least. Fortunately for us, AWARE offers tours every Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. when visitors can meet the resident Ambassador Animals, and learn more about wildlife!

If you went to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival and you saw the award-winning Eco-Village, I'm sure you'll agree that it's a wonderful addition to an already fantastic festival! 

I'm a strong proponent for sustainability and living/going green, so exploring the Eco-Village was great fun, as well as fascinating. AWARE was a new discovery for me, but I was quite happy to see Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Lifecycle Building Center, as well as the soon-to-open Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) represented. I invite you to explore their websites to learn more about their remarkable contributions to Atlanta.

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Marc James Villanueva
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Marc James Villanueva

This was MJ Vilanueva's first time showing at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival and his enthusiasm was off the charts, as is his mixed-media original contemporary art! My immediate favorite pieces was a series of thin, vertical works--reminiscent of a circuit board (at least for tech geeks like me)--that sold Saturday morning. All of them! 

It was great to see many new and first-time artists to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival--and their enthusiasm, and amazing art--and I hope we see more of MJ! Be sure to ask him about "Lucky #13" when you connect with him. I say again, don't be shy about talking with the artists...they're typically brilliant and happy to talk art!

When I asked MJ if I could make a photo of him with his art, he was almost apologetic in his explanation that he has to offer a Hawaiian "shaka" in all his photos. When I told him how many photos I have of myself offering a Vulcan salute we both enjoyed a hearty, understanding laugh. 

Speaking of enthusiastic, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival added a 5K this year. Director Brian Hill shared with me that they weren't sure what kind of response they'd get, but they had more than 500 runners! In the first year! This race is also a Peachtree Road Race qualifier, further evidence that if the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is going to do something, they're going to do it right!

International Program, Argentina
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | International Program, Argentina

The award-winning International Village has grown significantly since its founding at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Dogwood Festival Co-Chair Lesley Frappier shared with me the history of the international features of the Festival--the International Village growing from one country represented to this year capping out at 10 countries represented.

The photo above are representatives, and a friend, of the Consulate General of Argentina. When I found out that Argentina was part of the International Village I had to meet them and share that my 2004 two-week trip to Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls was one of my all-time favorite vacations! What great fun reminiscing with them. 

They were also giving away a Chimichurri recipe that I can hardly wait to try! 

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Greg Stones
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Greg Stones

Greg, of Watercolors by Greg Stones, has a new book out: Sock Monkeys Have Issues, and it's just as hilarious as his others! Of course I had to stop by and buy my own copy and Greg kindly personalize it for me saying, "You are so much cooler than any sock monkey, ever!" I haven't gotten a compliment like that in...well, ever! Sock monkeys are pretty darn cool, you know.
"Greg Stones turns his popular, playfully absurd illustration style and subversive humor to the lovable but issue-fraught world of sock monkeys, detailing their inner lives and misadventures with a playful wit that will appeal to cheeky monkeys of all ages." - Chronicle Books
If you've followed me for any length of years, you know that I've made a tradition of making a photo of or with Greg. Zombies and sock monkeys are quite as cooperative as Greg, who is much more agreeable. Anyway, this year I invited a few members of Greg's fandom. All but one fan smiled for the photo...but perhaps she was just concerned about the ninja lurking around the booth.  

One of the things that I love about the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is that they mix artists and art mediums. I might not have visited a watercolor section years ago (they've never sectioned mediums that I recall) and would have missed out on some of the best laughs ever. Greg is a favorite artist and I can't imagine the Atlanta Dogwood Festival with him and his humor there. 

The one thing that they do show collectively are Georgia artists, so if you're looking for something by a local artist, it's easy to find. Otherwise, explore the Artists Market at your leisure...there are hundreds to discover!

May I also mention that one of the local artists that I always enjoy seeing and catching up with is Elaine, from Elaine Rader Jewelery. Gorgeous work!

Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Kids Zone
Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015 | Kids Zone

The Kids Village at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival offered more this year than ever before! There were so many rides and experiences, it made me want to be a kid again. It's always great to see the kiddos having a good time at one of Atlanta's premier festivals!

The Kids Village is surrounded by other festival features. Immediately adjacent were:
Of the hundreds at the festival, I'd like to share with you a few other artists whose work I very much like:
  • Vince Pompei - Shows the brilliance and creativity a person can have with merely spoons!
  • Art by Tai - This artist reinforces that there's a LOT in the details. Tai's work is magnificent, particularly in the details. And he's incredibly clever.
  • David Burton Art - Complex and completely fun! I love the monochromatic black sculptures!
  • Bruce Holwerda - I didn't get to meet Bruce, but find his work fascinating and unlike anything I've seen. I particularly like his "Wheels & Orbs" series. 
  • Eric Grimes Art From Scraps - This was Eric's first time at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival and he took the ribbon for "Best of Wood". Congrats, Eric!
I visited the Atlanta Dogwood Festival on Friday, then went to an opening reception (Thank you, Launch Atlanta for the invite to the reception.) and then went back on Saturday and explored for an additional 5.5 hours! And I could have happily returned for the third day! It was that much fun.

I invite you, and encourage you, to visit the Atlanta Dogwood Festival website, and "Like" their Facebook page, for announcements of what promises to be a magnificent 80th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival! Don't miss it!

1 comment:

Lesley Frappier said...

It was such a pleasure to meet you! Thanks so much for a wonderful recap & endorsement of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Lesley