Coconut Grove Arts Festival 2007

From Feb 17th through Feb 19th, 2007There are certain events in South Florida that I look forward to taking part in each year. Highlights include the Miami International Film Festival, Art Basel, Art Miami, the numerous Food and Wine Fairs, the Boat Show and the Dade County Fair. But there is one event that sways my heart more than all of the other events combined. It’s the Coconut Grove Arts Festival (CGAF) and it truly has it all! Great art created by some of the worlds best artists, top notch entertainment, food stands filled with a multitude of tasty treats for the hungry and adventurous and bayside scenery that just dazzle the senses. So with all of the work involved in producing this award winning arts showcase, have you ever asked yourselves how the hundreds of finalists are chosen to exhibit in this Festival? I wondered myself, until about two years ago when I was asked to be one of the five judges who would make the decisions and chose the sculptural part of the show. Each year several small groups of established ‘local’ professional artists are given the difficult task of selecting an eclectic array of artwork suitable for viewing by a very ample and discernable audience. Classified as one of the five best art festivals in America, the three day annual event attracts over 150,000 visitors who are expecting to see the best creations anywhere. As a past judge, I can assure you that the selection process is grueling, but ultimately very satisfying. On a given day thousands of slides are presented to several panels of seated judges who rate the artwork. Equipped with hand held paddles, each inscribed with a number from one to ten, judges must quickly view the art in the form of projected slides, make an experienced decision, hold up the numbered paddles so that volunteers seated behind them can jot down all of the scores and then rapidly proceed to the next batch of slides, until all of the works have been properly screened. This year’s crop of hopefuls included 619 first-time applicants. More than 1,350 artists from North and South America, Europe and Australia applied for the show. Two panels of jurors selected 336 artists who will share their hand made wares with art lovers from around the globe. Since judges can’t see any of their colleagues’ final numbers, they discover the winning candidates, when they actually visit the show. On February 17th, 18th, and 19th, 2007 the Coconut Grove Arts Festival will celebrate its 44th Anniversary. Presented this year by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida visitors will be able to experience the works produced by the finest artists and craftspeople anywhere. Count on viewing Mixed Media, Clay Works, Digital and Classical Photography, Glass Art, Printmaking, Sculpture, Woodwork, Jewelry, Metalwork and of course water, oil and acrylic Paintings. For cuisine connoisseurs, head towards the Culinary Pavilion and check out award-winning chefs who will demonstrate and share tips about food, its preparation and nutrition. Honorary Chef for 2007 is Michele Bernstein (Michy’s on Biscayne Blvd.) who has perfected Latin, Caribbean, Asian and classic French influences at major U.S restaurants and on The Food Network. “We added the pavilion to our food options last year,” said Monty Trainer, president of the Arts Festival. “People loved the idea, so this year we’re offering a second helping.” Kids haven’t been neglected either. The Coconut Grove Bank Kids’ Creative Corner will offer hands-on art projects for children ages 4-11 with the instruction and supervision of the Young Rembrandts Society. Also on view and for sale is this year’s CGAF poster, created by well known Brazilian artist Romero Britto. In the past, posters have depicted the laid back village style living aspect of this historical village. Britto’s rendition created some grumblings amongst the Grovers. According to The Coconut Grove Grapevine (blogspot) numerous past attendees disapproved of the 2007 poster claiming that it did not relate to the Grove and was much too commercial. One anonymous writer stated “Not enough Grove, too much Britto.” In spite of the objections, this spectacular festival is truly a wonderful way to spend Presidents’ Day Weekend while enjoying the outdoors and admiring original crafts created by passionate artists. The Festival hours are from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. It runs along the streets of McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive and Pan American Drive. For more information, please visit: By Marguerite Gil

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