Show Preview | Carmel Art Festival

Carmel, CA
Devendorf Park, May 17-20

Quick Draw artists display their two-hour paintings during the 2011 festival.

For the 19th year in a row, the Carmel Art Festival bursts onto the scene of Carmel-by-the-Sea for four days of art events showcasing the process and talent of plein-air painters from around the country. “The whole town becomes a place of inspiration and enjoyment,” says Tammi Tharp, the festival’s president.

The event kicks off May 17 at Devendorf Park and Mission Street and continues through May 20. Sixty artists are participating this year, juried from more than 150 applicants. Each artist displays two paintings at the opening of the festival, adding more as they complete new paintings onsite en plein air. “The paintings for sale are hung with literally wet paint,” Tharp says. Because fresh paintings continue to come in throughout the weekend, those who visit on the last day of the festival can still expect to find great values on some of the artists’ best works.
Despite being painted in the same general location, the works produced are not just the typical beach scenes one might expect. Tharp says viewers and collectors can expect to see paintings of everything from ocean views to the valley, from broken-down pickups and tractors to artichoke fields and more. “You’re going to get a real variety,” she says.

The festival is designed to be fun and interactive, a way to make the process of viewing and buying art “not so stiff,” Tharp says. Artists are frequently seen hanging out by their paintings chatting with viewers, and many will sign their work for the buyer on the spot. “It’s an experience,” Tharp says, explaining that when you purchase a piece of art at the festival, “you create memories attached to the painting you take.”

Events scheduled during the festival include the live Sculpture-in-the-Park, Kids Art Day, a silent auction, an awards ceremony, and a Quick Draw competition. Additionally, many local galleries schedule special events to coincide with the festival. These are listed in the free festival booklet available at the information tent.

The Carmel Art Festival is a nonprofit organization with the mission of educating and inspiring people of all ages about the visual arts. Donations from the event support local youth art programs. “What we’re trying to do is help people understand what plein-air painting is. That’s why I love the Quick Draw event—because everyone gets to see how fast the artists create these paintings,” Tharp says, adding, “Be ready to be amazed.” —Lindsay Mitchell

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Featured in May 2012.