The Beaux Arts Festival is becoming virtual for its 70th edition of affordable art collection


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Here’s some good news for the local art scene: Miami-Dade County’s longest-running jury of art fairs won’t actually let the COVID-19 crisis kill it this year. Instead of that, Fine Arts Festival, a fully volunteer-run, women’s event that has warmed the winter at Coral Gables since 1952, returns virtually to this weekend for its 70th edition, which begins tomorrow, January 16th.

In what we might kindly call “Previous Times,” Beaux Arts has prepared for a major weekend for families and ambitious art collectors. Although brighter events have emerged (and, in some cases, disappeared), the Art of Fine Arts has continued to stand out by reminding festival goers that artists are people and works of art do not have to be a means of redirecting capital; they should be appreciated and enjoyed.

A group of critics evaluates the applications in the show, which are largely in favor of artists from South Florida, but the curators have long highlighted the works available in all types of media. The fun of going out to the Beaux Arts Festival always came from showing up empty-handed, browsing artists ’booths, meeting creators face-to-face, and potentially taking a work of art home for the price of a dinner for two.

“The common thread is that if you’re an art lover, you’ll get access to 11 different art categories that all have different price points,” says Michele Reese Granger, co-president of the nonprofit organization behind the festival. “If you’re a beginner in collecting, you can find a print for $ 10 and you can find something far more expensive if you want. I think the scope of the type of work is what makes this festival important, but also the one that makes it accessible to many people. “

But how do you recreate the festival experience – walking around the cabin, taking your time – in the age of Zoom?

First, admission to the virtual version of the event is completely free, just as always. And Reese Granger and her fellow volunteers have developed several platforms to mimic the interaction of the festival’s trademark. First, on the festival website, attendees can find a series of all-day Zoom gatherings touring the artist’s studios, watching their processes (throwing pottery! Making a thermal patina on jewelry!) and asking questions. (Check the schedule of these live conversations and demonstrations here.)

Meanwhile, the festival’s website will offer a virtual tour feature, in which viewers can view the artist’s cabin settings as if they were physically there. Families, while adults browse, can even place children on a separate screen for art and craft art classes courtesy of art teachers at the Beaux Arts summer camp.

After all, if you decide to buy a work of art, you can click knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to the artists, for whom the festival has waived this year’s fee for the stand. The festival itself, meanwhile, has long drawn its funds from donations and sponsorships – as well as from selling visitors its annual local cult program, bags, posters and other goods.

You can still buy, which this year feature works by artist Christine Flowers, who exhibited for the first time, and send them home. The proceeds benefit the University of Miami Lowe Museum of Art, offering a virtual public program even as long as its doors remain closed during a pandemic.

This year’s marriage of tactile and technological marriage seems futuristic far from the humble origins of fine art in the middle of the last century, when incentives for the then-new Lowe Museum hung works from ropes for public sale.

The silver set of virtual redirection is that now absolutely anyone can attend – and more than 200 artists presenting their work can reach a wider audience than ever before.

“There is such a tradition that makes this festival so special, so the common purpose of all of us is for the tradition to live in our community, which makes us keep doing it,” says Reese Granger, adding: “And what better way to support artists than a big festival that brings thousands of eyeballs to their work? “

Fine Arts Festival. Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17; beauxartsfestival.com. Admission is free.

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