With the madness (and overpriced potassium) of Art Basel now in Miami’s rear-view mirror, museums and galleries all around the city are gearing up for another year of exhibitions that highlight both up-and-coming and established artists. First up for 2020: the 69th-annual Beaux Arts Festival, which is taking over the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum on Saturday, January 18, and Sunday, January 19.
Each year, the Beaux Arts organization invites young artists to their long-running Festival of Art as a way of providing space and visibility to those who otherwise might not have it. Accessing a captive audience is crucial for any artist seeking to broaden their name recognition, and in a world where word of mouth is a key means to that end, gatherings like Beaux Arts have become increasingly important for local artists.
The festival began as a simple “Clothesline Sale” in 1951, and was named for the volunteers using clotheslines to display locally made works on the sidewalk in front of the Lowe Art Museum, which was still a gallery at the time. A lot has changed since the inaugural festival, but the volunteers' roles haven't: Beaux Arts is still 100 percent volunteer-run.
Beaux Arts’ mission since its founding has been to support the museum laying at the heart of UM’s campus. The subsequent decades have seen the organization create a handful of events and initiatives designed to further that aim.
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Take, for example, the Student Artist Showcase, which joined the Festival of Art weekend festivities back in 2002. The festival’s location on a prestigious university’s campus makes it a natural venue for young students to present their work and simultaneously give them a goal to work towards as they pursue their craft into adulthood; the Student Artist Showcase, then, was created as a way of providing them a platform and an early start. Over 400 middle and high school students submit their work to the juried art contest, with 150 finalists displaying their work at the showcase on Thursday, January 16. Winners are announced in each art category, with their artwork subsequently earning a cash prize and spot in the Lowe Museum, and a Best in Show award is given to the young creator with the most artistic vision.
Today, the Festival of Art stands as South Florida’s oldest juried art festival. Beaux Arts combs through over 500 applications from national and international artists each summer, and chooses only the best to join the festival in January. This year’s show will feature over 220 exhibitors, spanning more than ten mediums and awarding $20,000 in cash prizes. The work on display at the festival goes beyond just traditional oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, or even 3D media like ceramics and glass: jewelry vendors, for example, will enjoy a large presence at Beaux Arts this year, while local photographers like Bill Brothers and Armando Colls will be presenting their work spotlighting the beauty and subtlety of Miami and beyond.
Despite bringing artists who hail from all around the country (and the world) much like Basel and other related art fairs, Beaux Arts continues to foster a homegrown, Miami-centric energy that's proved crucial to its survival over the decades. Local support of events is necessary for them to endure, and festivals like Beaux Arts weekend have ensured Miami art can be enjoyed by more than just the upper crust.
Beaux Arts Festival of Art. 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 18, and Sunday, January 19, on Stanford Drive and the Foote University Green at the University of Miami; beauxartsmiami.org. Admission is free.