(Michael Jurist, “Poppies”)
By Michael Curry
The Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival, taking place over the weekend of October 12 and 13, should be a definite addition to your to do list for the Fall.
Set in Styron Square in the center of Port Warwick in Newport News, the Art and Sculpture Festival is one of the most prestigious and certainly one of the most well loved destination art shows for artists and connoisseurs from across the United States.
But it is not just an arts festival; it has become a hugely supported community fixture that is still evolving. In addition to the award-winning visual arts, the festival is filled with fantastic live entertainment, gourmet food trucks, and relaxing beer and wine garden where you can soak up the ambience.
This year’s festival features bodies of work by more than 80 artists — more than half of whom are “returning” artists. As Director Jackie Shapiro enthusiastically states: “We have more sculptors than ever this year and more than 80 fantastic artists coming.”
On display will be the finest in sculpture, ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, metal work, painting, drawing, graphics, photography and creations in various rare and exotic woods . Artists and craftsmen from Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin have been accepted this year
Getting accepted into the festival is not an easy or routine task. Artists apply and their work is reviewed by a distinguished committee. As a frequent exhibitor recently told VEER, “I am delighted to have been selected again into this wonderful show. The jurors keep the show’s quality very high and this is one of the shows I look forward to participating in – the venue is lovely and the visitors are great.”
And then, once accepted and exhibiting, the artists’ works are judged and awarded prizes. This year’s judge is Brandon Finney, the Conservator of Paintings and Fine Art at the Chrysler Museum.
THE FESTIVAL EVOLVES
Never content with just being one of the best, the Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival continues to expand and to reach deep into the community. One of this year’s brand new initiatives is a partnership with the Downing Gross Cultural Art Center in Newport News. The Port Warwick Foundation’s Executive Director Jackie Shapiro explains: “This new and exciting partnership will be launched with a special exhibition featuring six artists who exhibit at Downing Gross: Alyssa Pickens, Chris Green, Patrick Mills, Ray Johnson, Scot Turner and Conrad Francis “Rads.” We are really looking forward to setting new examples and standards in our 15th anniversary season.”.
Then, serendipitously one of the original participating artists in the festival is sponsoring cash awards and in doing so proudly states: “This show has always been good to me and I want to give back in some way to the community that sponsors it all.”
Also new this year is the Emerging Artists Tent which will showcase the art of local high school students.
And in keeping with its stated mission of being a family event, the Port Warwick Arts and Sculpture Festival features a Young Collector’s Tent. This unique concept enables young people to purchase art and thereby encourages collection. Participating artists donate a piece (or two) valued at up to $300. Youngsters then can purchase any piece for as little as $5. Proceeds from the sales help to fund a scholarship for emerging artists.
Visionary developer Bobby Freeman enlisted the help of Styron in the early phases of development of the community. Styron himself stated proudly: “In naming the various thoroughfares and squares of Port Warwick, I have chosen outstanding American literary figures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These artists seem to me ones who are indisputably lodged in the pantheon of American literature. Limitation in number has forced me to exclude many illustrious writers deserving of recognition; therefore my choices reflect a personal leaning. But the overall selection of names does, I think, represent the best in the great flowering of American literary art.”
The entire community is now a preferred destination for art and sculpture lovers. In addition to the 3-acre square and green space, you will find chic boutiques, award winning restaurants and other one of a kind businesses. Widely recognized as one of the most arts friendly communities in the region, it also home to more than 1,500 people, living in houses, townhomes, live-above homes, apartments and condominiums.
Designed with public art and sculpture in mind, Port Warwick is an award-winning, mixed-use community located off Jefferson Avenue in Newport News. At the center of the community lies Styron Square, a three-acre green space designed after the great squares of London. This handsome square was named after Newport News native and Pulitzer prize-winning author William Styron.
AND ON STAGE
During this year’s Art and Sculpture Festival several multi talented and leading regional musicians will be featured. These include VEER MAGAZINE favorites: Chisman Creek, Paul Urban, The Wampler Brothers, Zen Mojo and Addison Liming. And don’t miss gigs PW Arts Festival favorites Matt Thomas and Dustin Furlow. There will also be a dance component with performances by Dance Works Dance Troupe.
The Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival is one of many popular events presented by the Port Warwick Foundation with major support from Virginia Health Services. The Foundation’s other events include the Summer Concert Series in Styron Square, the Holiday Tree Lighting on November 30 and the new Jazz series held on Sundays in April and September.
WANT TO GO
The Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival
October 12, 10am – 6pm
October 13, 10am – 5pm.