Perhaps looking for something colorful and upbeat among the bleakness of the economy, a record 25,000 people attended the 30th annual Naples National Art Festival
, hosted by the Naples Art Association at The von Liebig Art Center on Feb. 21 and 22. The festival provides the organization with approximately 20 percent of its annual operating budget for arts education and programming.
"We are proud to host this festival to help people appreciate and enjoy art," said Joel Kessler, the art association's executive director. "We work hard to find and present high quality artists working in both traditional and contemporary styles across all media. Each year, people who attend this festival know they will find a combination of returning favorites and artists new to the Naples art scene who travel from across the country to participate in this prestigious festival." The Naples National was voted the fifth best art festival in the country by Sunshine Artist magazine.
Many artists reported record sales compared to previous appearances at the festival, encouraging news for the Naples community, which boasts hundreds of professional artists. Several also received commissions for art created to suit a buyer's needs.
"One of the great things about buying art at a festival," Kessler said, "is that you get to interact with the artists, hear how they were inspired to create a specific piece, and even have input into making a custom piece for your home or office."
The art association credits its sponsors, artists and volunteers for working cooperatively to host the festival guests and ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.
Richard Rosen of Naples won the Best in Show award for his clay sculpture. Dexiang Qian of Philadelphia won Director's Choice for his paintings. Janet Rogers of Ormond Beach, FL, won Best in 2D for her watercolors. Angelika Kade of Naples won Best in 3D for her marble sculpture. Ten awards of distinction were also presented.
The art association's next major event is the March 14 to May 3 presentation of Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life and Legends, a Bank of America traveling exhibition. The von Liebig Art Center is the first venue in Florida to host the show, which spans the artist's career from the 1950s through 1986 and features key early works from landmark series such as Endangered Species, Flowers, Jews of the Twentieth Century, Myths, Muhammad Ali and Space Fruits. The exhibition also will include two of Warhol's most famous pieces: a portrait of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell's Soup I (Cream of Mushroom).