What is the Coconut Grove Arts Festival?
The Coconut Grove Arts Festival (CGAF) has become known as one of the top art festivals nationally with over 270 participating artists. The outdoor festival closes downtown Coconut Grove to automobile traffic with booths stretching 2/3 of a mile along McFarland Rd and South Bayshore Dr resulting in over two walking miles of exhibitors. Artists from all over the world compete to be accepted into the show. Categories include 2D Mixed Media, 3D Mixed Media, Clay, Digital Art, Fiber Art, Glass, Jewelry & Metalwork, Painting, Photography, Printmaking & Drawing, Sculpture, Watercolor, and Wood.
Why you must experience the Coconut Grove Arts Festival
What makes CGAF unique is that it is a successful show of artwork in numerous categories curated by artists, collectors and educators in the Coconut Grove community. The day-of-show judges are selected from practicing artists. The festival truly represents the soul and conscience of the artist community in Coconut Grove. In addition to the art-centric Grovites, the festival attracts over 100,000 visitors who come prepared to acquire art. This year, I watched several booths sell almost everything they had on display and take orders for limited edition prints beyond their show inventory. Most of the art on display was priced under $10,000 with a sweet spot in the $500 to $2500 range.
Judging Photography and Digital Art
Being asked to judge the artwork for a juried competition like The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is a great honor and a daunting task. This year was the third time over the past five years that I have been invited to serve as a judge. The executive team for CGAF selects local artists and assigns them to a category in which they are a practicing artist. I was asked to judge photography and digital art.
The Challenge and Reward of Serving as a Judge
All the judges receive a list of artists, their submission papers, and links to the artist’s website. We are asked to thoroughly review the artist’s works before the opening day of the festival so we can be familiar with the works and recognize the artwork when we visit the booths. I can say that I personally spent over two days reviewing websites and making notes before the festival opened. Since the booths are not grouped by category, judges have to cover the two mile track in about 3 hours then get back together to review their top candidates and pick the Best of Show winner. Its a full day and its exhausting. On day two, CGAF becomes more relaxed as I can enjoy the whole festival and visit all the booths leisurely.
A Tip for Submitting and Participating Artists
If I could recommend one thing for participating artists, I would suggest they create a page or slide show of work to be exhibited at the show and make it a single click from the home page. Some websites are very time consuming to navigate, slow to load, or don’t work. Those participants with a poor website experience are at a disadvantage when the judge has only a few minutes to view a busy booth and was unable to preview the works.
It is such a pleasure to work with the CGAF executive team, the volunteers, other judges and the participating artists. I have to give special thanks Lilia Garcia who makes this fantastic event happen each President’s Day weekend trusting me to be part of her team and to my wonderful assistant Cecilia Kurland who helped me make it through the crowds, into the booths, and past the artists.
The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is a must attend event each year whether you are an art collector, art appreciator, artist or just looking for a great family outing. Mark your calendar for next President’s Day weekend!