“The Square is absolutely the best backdrop for the festival,” said Caroline Morris on Saturday, who has coordinated the festival since it began.
Morris said the many returning artists are professionals at setting up in the small, white canvas tents, making the load-in Saturday run smoothly.
When Art in the Park started 27 years ago, there were 32 artists, Morris said. This year, out of the hundreds who applied, 175 artists are chosen by a committee based on photographs of the applicants’ work, studios and booths.
Although most of the artists at the festival are from the Southeast region, some artists traveled from Arizona, Michigan, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Pieces range from jewelry, pottery, glass pieces, oil and water color paintings, sculptures, photographs and mixed media.
Jewelry is the most competitive category and draws the largest amount of submissions, Morris said. But the organizers make sure there is a balance, and even within a type of medium there is a variety of subject matter.
This year, Morris asked local restaurants to offer discounts for artists participating in the event.
Morris said even a free drink with a delivery is a big help to the artists who may have traveled a long way with no one to watch the tent while they grab food.
Eight establishments participated this year, and Morris said she hopes to grow that number next year.
Before the festival had an official name, a small group of artists would display their work on a side street off the Square with booths made of chicken wire and plastic tarps, said Ann Cockerill, who grew up in Marietta and now lives in Douglasville.
“Marietta is a cultured community that loves art,” Cockerill said.
Cockerill owns The Red Cockerill Gallery in Acworth and was is again at this year’s Art in the Park to sell her acrylic paintings.
The key to being a successful artist is having the discipline to paint every day, Cockerill said.
Cockerill said she starts planning for the show in October and every year there is a focal point for the entire new set of pieces she offers to customers.
“Local landmarks are always very popular,” Cockerill said.
Cockerill’s booth is a family affair, with support from her husband, Bill, who is a potter, and her daughter, Emily, who is a photographer.
Bill Cockerill said his daughter has gone to art shows since she was three weeks old. On Saturday, Emily Cockerill brought her 7-month-old daughter, Anna Grace, to cheer on her grandmother.
About a third of the artists are new to the Art in the Park festival this year, Morris said.
Photographer Colleen Morgan, 26, joined her father, Danny O’Driscoll, a painter, to present for the first time in Georgia.
Morgan and O’Driscoll live in South Carolina. Morgan said she has been shooting pictures ever since she could hold a camera.
Her work focuses on natural subjects, like flowers and sunsets around horse barns and farmland.
Morgan’s vivid pictures of worn, distressed and antique structures are represented in her favorite work that she called the “peeling staircase.”
A white, flaking banister with curved cutouts in the wood was taken at a three-story Victorian house in Prosperity, S.C., Morgan said.
O’Driscoll said he has been traveling to art shows for 30 years and heard about Art in the Park through word of mouth.
He started showing in Marietta 15 years ago and said the Labor Day festival is on par with the quality at any major show.
Yet, O’Driscoll said Art in the Park offers the hometown atmosphere of a family event, instead of a “big business” show.
Around the nation
Doug Crane came from Springboro, Ohio, to try a new market and said he has never shown in the Atlanta region.
Crane said he read a prospectus on the show that highlighted the large attendance. He added that the price for renting a booth was very reasonable.
Crane was a fine-jewelry craftsman 15 years go, but hobby jewelry makers started to overwhelm the market, so Crane went back to his metal-smithing roots.
“I have been playing with metal for a long time,” Crane said about his work with aluminum, bronze, silver, gold and now pewter.
This weekend, Crane is presenting a collection of hourglass stands that range in time from two minutes to an hour.
The glass is hand blown by a small family-owned company in England, Crane said.
Crane crafts the spindles out of pewter, with various textures and patterns of vines and leaves, which hold a base at either side that can be made from 25 different types of wood.
Crane pointed out one of the largest pieces with buckeye from southern California that had a natural look with the rivets of the outer bark along the edges.
A medium-sized piece, which was 9 to 10 inches tall, was priced at $199.
Sales on Saturday were a little slow, Crane said, who added “the heat of the day is driving people away.”
But the quality of work by fellow artists was everything that the information packet promised, Crane said.
“It is a spectacular level of art,” Crane said.