With brisk temperatures and the heavy rain at bay, attracted throngs of art lovers to downtown McLean on Sunday.
It was touch-and-go-for a while as to whether to event would be held indoors or out. The event planners were watching the weather forecast closely as a decision had to be made on Wednesday, said Dabney Cortina, the communications director for the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA).
Initially, it was supposed to be sunny all weekend. Then with the heavy rains Saturday, everyone kept their fingers crossed that there would be a break in the unending rain of the last month.
Upon entering McLean Central Park, visitors walked through the colorful Childrens ArtWalk (covered in plastic, just in case) and were greeted by live musical performances in the gazebo. An array of genres were slated for the day from classical to blues – from brass quartets to strings.
”We really enjoyed playing the Artfest," said Jeannine Everett, a violinist with the McLean Symphony. "Despite the cold, the reception couldn't have been warmer. We're lucky to be part of a community that supports and celebrates the arts. After all, a great audience is one half of a great performance. If the joyous father-daughter dance team that joined us towards the end of our session is any indication, I'll consider it a wild success."
The park grounds were lined with 46 artists' tents – painters, potters, sculptors, jewelry designers. Some of the artists were new to the event, but many have participated multiple times. Hilary Hachey, a jewelry designer, said, “I’ve been here since it started … It’s a great show, well attended … The people are so supportive.”
Jennifer Duncan, a multimedia artist, returned to Artfest after showing her work in 2008. She is a member of the Great Falls Studio and won the bluebird painting competition in Great Falls. Duncan is a fan of Artfest and said, “It’s one of the best – so well-run, well-organized – amazing volunteers. … It’s well-publicized and attended despite the weather.”
The painter exhibited her work at MPA this past winter. This was her first time participating in Artfest. “I’ve come as a patron before. … It’s a great event and gets a lot of people out. … The weather is not as bad as we were expecting.”
Since the beginning, oil painter Mollie Vardell has been involved with Artfest. “I was a volunteer the first two years. The last three years I have been a participating artist … MPA is a wonderful organization and does so much for the artists and the community. It is my favorite art show of the year because it is so well attended with visitors of all ages and has a great sense of community and camaraderie.”
Budding artists who felt inspired to create were given ample opportunity. Zoe Davidson, a senior at McLean High School with plans on entering the art world, was a volunteer at the ”Live Model Drawing Station” and said: “I volunteered here last year as well. ... I volunteered with the figure drawing because it’s a great way to practice art and get others involved.”
Little ones could flex their creative muscles in the children’s art tent. Nine-year-old McLean resident Sophia Kianni took time from her drawing to share her work of art. She said, “I took a castle and am going to color it and decorate with butterflies. … It’s more of a spring picture.”
Those who were hungry had a selection of food vendors from which to choose. Many visitors seemed to be carrying cups of coffee to help offset the cool temperatures. While a young girl waited for the hot chocolate to heat up, Sam Chappell – head of the food vendor committee – talked about the food stations. They were fairly busy and expected more traffic as the day progressed. He said, “We’re selling a variety of hot and cold food from Nourish Market, J. Glibert’s, Lebanese Taverna and Armand’s Pizza.”
Everyone was impressed by the helpful and knowledgeable volunteer staff. Ronni Jolles, a multimedia artist who combines paper and acrylics, has participated in Artfest several times. She said,” I love Artfest. … It’s a nice event, the volunteers are wonderful.” The bottom line – “We’re lucky the weather held out.”