This Mother’s Day weekend, skip the predictable brunch, and take Mom to the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival. Attendees of the family-friendly free event, now in its 21st year, will experience the work of 130 visual artists, street treats prepared by local restaurants and musical acts to keep the energy going. “People love to come out for a street festival,” said Stephanie Coppula, director of marketing and communications for Bethesda Urban Partnership, the organization that presents the event every year.
Joseph “Craig” English has participated in the festival for 15 years. “I feel at home every time I come to the festival,” he said. “I am a local artist in every aspect of the word. I was born in Washington, D.C., and my subjects are hand-crafted original silkscreen prints portraying the D.C. metro area.” Meet the artist and browse his prints at his booth near the intersection of Norfolk and Auburn.
“People get to talk to the artists, learn about their processes and find out about their inspiration,” Coppula said. “It’s a great way to start buying art if you are new to collecting.” Attendees have opportunities, for example, to learn the difference between traditional figurative and landscape work and abstraction. Artists will sell work ranging from inexpensive wearable pieces to paintings and sculptures worth thousands of dollars. All work is handmade, so everyone can take a unique piece home and find one-of-a-kind gifts for the moms in their lives.
Bill Herb, who has been showing his work at the festival for the last five years, won “Best in Show” last year. “I have been a ceramic sculptor, working exclusively in raku, for over 40 years,” Herb said. “The patrons that attend the festival are knowledgeable in art and are very supportive of the artist, which makes for a great atmosphere… “I was honored to be chosen [for the award] last year, especially amongst such high-caliber artists,” he added. Visit him at booth number 19.
While many of the artists are return vendors to the festival, 20 to 25 percent are new to the fair this year, which means seasoned attendees will have plenty to see. “We love to have the people back who come every year,” Coppula said, “but it’s really nice to welcome new artists, too.”
In addition to new artists, Bethesda is enjoying a boom of new residents who have never attended the festival. Freshly occupied condominiums and luxury apartments located within the surrounding blocks of the festival mean newcomers can enjoy the event within steps of their homes. There will be a full range of styles, mediums and sizes of artwork to make their homes unique.
Live music by The Moxie Blues Band, La Unica, Brent & Co. and others will offer a wide a range of musical styles to complement the art-gazing and cheerful atmosphere.
Looking at art on a beautiful spring day makes people hungry. Bethesda Curry Kitchen, Häagen-Daz, Mama Lucia’s, MOMO Chicken and Grill, Smoke BBQ and Tyber Bierhaus will sell refreshment throughout the weekend.
Bethesda Fine Arts Festival runs Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Artist booths, food vendors and live music will pop up in Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle along Norfolk, Auburn and Del Ray avenues. There will be a face-painting station on Auburn both days and live entertainment throughout the festival. For a list of artists, vendors and performance times, visit www.bethesda.org.