Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Williamsburg Fall Arts Kicks Off Friday in Yorktown

At a past "Opening Night,"  Maureen Moss (left), Chairman for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Concert that takes place at Riverwalk Landing, poses with Leslie Viccellio, Chairman for "Opening Night." (Courtesy Terry Buntrock)
At a past “Opening Night,” Maureen Moss (left), Chairman for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Concert at Riverwalk Landing, poses with Leslie Viccellio, Chairman for “Opening Night.” (Courtesy Terry Buntrock)

Williamsburg Fall Arts is back for its fifth year of celebrating all things art in the Historic Triangle.

What started out as “Arts Month” five years ago has expanded to a seven-week festival featuring visual, performance and food arts throughout the Greater Williamsburg area.

In its original form, Arts Month was a branding initiative to promote ongoing art exhibits and events in the weeks leading up to An Occasion for the Arts.

Shortly after beginning her tenure as President of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, Karen Riordan expressed pushed to have the six- to seven-week celebration of arts renamed.

The decision to go with Williamsburg Fall Arts reflects the desire of the Tourism Alliance to host art events in every season, with the goal of turning Williamsburg into a year-round arts destination.

“Williamsburg is and always has been an arts destination. Focusing our precious tourism funds on certain seasons helps us elevate awareness of our arts product and reinforces our arts message,” said Terry Buntrock, the Fall Arts coordinator.

Along with the question of a new name came the issue of how exactly to define the event. “Arts Month” was originally conceptualized as an umbrella under which ongoing art exhibits and events could be grouped and promoted, and that goal is still a major driving force for Williamsburg Fall Arts.

This year’s iteration of Fall Arts will also see the inclusion of a few new events, in addition to the return of some old favorites.

“One of the things that keeps Fall Arts dynamic and exciting is the change that takes place every year,” Buntrock said. “This year we have the Las Bicicletas traveling art show in town, [which] has inspired a seven-day food, sports and art festival, The Spoke&Art.”

The Yorktown Wine Festival, the Gallery Crawl and An Occasion for the Arts are the signature events that anchor the event, but several other popular staples of Fall Arts will also be returning.

As in past years, free concerts will be a key element in this year’s festival . The lineup includes performances from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Rhythms on the Riverwalk weekly fall concerts series and live music at numerous area restaurants.

Many returning events also share a common theme that links them together in the larger scheme of Fall Arts.

“Arts Inspires Stories” Weekend, a fixture for the past four years, has been spread out this year due to venue scheduling conflicts, but the core events remain intact. From the Contemporary Artisans Festival, which features artisans sharing their stories as they demonstrate their crafts, to the Williamsburg Book Festival to the Tucker Arnold Storytelling Concert, all of the events emphasize the ability of art to communicate moving and complex stories.

The Fall Arts festival will kick off in Yorktown on Friday night. For the past three years, the Celebrate Yorktown Committee has hosted an “Opening Night” fundraiser in the Yorktown Freight Shed, with the goal of raising not only money but awareness of Fall Arts offerings to come in the weeks ahead.

The rationale behind opening Williamsburg Fall Arts in Yorktown is twofold: The fundraiser is always held the night before the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s performance at Riverwalk Landing, making Yorktown a practical location to centralize the first weekend of Fall Arts happenings; also, event planners hope to draw more explicit connections between Yorktown and the arts community as a whole.

Each year the Freight Shed is transformed into a gallery showcasing art in a particular medium. This year visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy wood art from numerous different artists, including Tom Wessells, Chuck Mosser, David McIntire, Michael Prieto, Marilyn West, Joe Lascara, Kirt Richards, Carolyn Rhoads and Carleton Bakkum.

While taking in the art, guests can also delight in a live performance by local musician Bob Rankin, who will be setting the mood instrumental jazz and classics. Food and drink will also be provided, setting the stage for a night of conversation and culture as arts lovers mill about the gallery.

“Opening Night” will also feature a silent auction made up of items donated by local businesses, with the proceeds going towards supporting visual and performing arts initiatives in the community,

Tickets to Opening Night are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. They can be purchased in person at the Gallery at York Hall or reserved by mailing a check to made out to “Celebrate Yorktown Committee” to PO Box 557, Yorktown, VA 23690.

For more information, call 757-890-2162

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