After a year away, An Occasion for the Arts returns to Williamsburg’s Merchants Square on Oct. 6-8, 2023. The lineup includes:
• A selection of juried, world-class art from regional and national artists
• Stage performers and musical entertainment
• Youth activities, including a Youth Art Exhibition
• A community arts project
The free festival, canceled last fall due to threatening weather from Hurricane Ian, is one of the premier arts shows in the nation, an opportunity for shoppers to browse for one-of-a-kind gifts in an outdoor art gallery while experiencing music and various outlets of creative expression.
Brand New: A Preview Night
An inaugural fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 6 from 5-9 p.m., called An Evening for the Arts offers folks the chance to shop on the eve of the actual festival, enjoy live music from the band Good Shot Judy and sample an eclectic mix of small bites from local restaurants. Wine and craft beer will be for sale. The event will be held in the parking lot behind Blue Talon bistro at 420 Prince George St.
Proceeds from An Evening for the Arts will help fund a new “Artist in Residence” program supporting the arts in Williamsburg/James City County Public Schools. This program will bring a practicing artisan into a school for a period of time to work on a specific project approved by the school board and the school which will result in a substantiative public art installation.
Participating restaurants for the evening event include Aromas Coffeehouse Bakery & Café, Baskin-Robbins, Colonial Williamsburg restaurants Gold Course Clubhouse Grille, Rockefeller Room and Sweet Tea & Barley, Culture Cafe, illy Caffé, Mellow Mushroom, Precarious Beer Hall, Retro’s Good Eats, and Saladworks.
“It’s going to be an unforgettable weekend for everyone in attendance,” said Amy Ahearn, President of the Board of Directors for An Occasion for the Arts. “We invite families and art lovers of all ages to spend all three days with us.
Something for Everyone
AOFTA runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The exhibiting artists come from 18 different states and this year’s festival includes some new faces as 34% of the artists have never showcased at the show before. The art ranges from painting, drawing and pastels to sculpture, ceramics, glass, metal and wood. Look for jewelry and fiber, photography and digital along with mixed media 2D and 3D.
Musical performances will continue throughout the weekend. They include the 10-time National Scottish Fiddling Champion, a multicultural drummer, Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, blues, Celtic music, strings, pop, country and rock.
Channel your inner artist by participating in a community art project orchestrated by Steve Prince, Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at the Muscarelle Museum of Art.
All ages can join in to create a unique 12×12 quilt block using fabric, scissors and glue — patches that will be stitched together as a vision exemplifying who we are as a community.
“We’re trying to get the stories of multigenerational people within the community, and we want them to tell their stories in the form of a patchwork quilt,” Prince said. “I chose this as a project because patchwork quilt is something that we share globally. Every culture across the planet has a patchwork quilt past that they’ve taken the scraps and figured out how to make something from that knowledge in order to survive.”
The goal is to make the quilt extend a mile. No prior quilting experience is needed. Anyone wanting to make a square can receive assistance from Prince or his staff of docents.
Folks who attend AOFTA on Sunday can also walk over to 2nd Sundays at 401 N. Boundary St.. The monthly music and art festival runs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and includes arts and handcrafts, food and dessert trucks and face painting and children’s crafts.
For more information on AOFTA, visit AOFTA.org.
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