Devendorf Park, May 15-18
This story was featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
The city of Carmel is steeped in artistic history. Founded by a group of artists in the early 20th century following the San Francisco earthquake, Carmel-by-the-Sea, as it’s affectionately known, became a mecca for artists. The Carmel Art Festival honors the tradition of those creative forefathers with a weekend gathering of artistic competition, music, and community spirit.
Always held the weekend after Mother’s Day, the 21st Carmel Art Festival runs from May 15 to May 18 in Devendorf Park. The featured event is the plein-air competition, in which 60 juried artists roam throughout Monterey County to capture the abundance of majestic scenery along the California coastline. The artists have two days to create artworks before judging takes place on Saturday. “They’re all plein-air painters who come into town and paint the amazing scen- ery we have here in the area,” says festival president Tammi Tharp. “We get everything from coastal views to beat-up trucks in the valley, animals in the hillsides, and shipyards. It’s like a postcard tour of the area.”
The weekend also includes events for the whole family. With live music by local musicians, a Kids Art Day, and Sculpture in the Park, the festival continues to keep art alive in the community. Winners of the plein-air competition take part in a two-hour Quick Draw on Sunday where visitors can watch artists capture a slice of Carmel right before their eyes; the paintings are auctioned after time expires. “We’ve sent folks home from all over the country with paintings that they had not planned to buy when they came to Carmel,” Tharp says. “But they get inspired, and that’s very exciting for us—to feel like we’ve made somebody feel passionate about art when they hadn’t before.”
Representing a wide range of media and styles, past plein-air participants include Kevin Courter, Brian Blood, Terri Ford, Aimee Erickson, and David Savellano. Proceeds from the festival go to local youth art programs to further instill the importance of art in the community. “That’s why we do it,” Tharp says. “Giving people an event that’s enjoyable and gets them excited about art is a really positive thing.” —Joe Kovack
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