Downtown waterfront setting will make art “sparkle”
Morgan M. Hurley | Downtown Editor
Arts Month San Diego celebrates the diverse visual art scene found in and around America’s Finest City. It spans the entire month of September and includes events, exhibitions and performances all over the county.
Its flagship event, however, is a little slice of heaven found Downtown along the water, for just two of those days.
ArtWalk on the Bay, the “little sister” to the Mission Federal’s ArtWalk in Little Italy each spring and Southern California’s largest fine art festival according to organizers, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sunday, Sept. 23.
The outdoor festival is free to the public and has a unique, intimate atmosphere, hosted at Waterfront Park on the grass in front of the Hilton Bayfront, just behind the San Diego Convention Center.
“It is so pretty on the grass by the bay,” said Sandi Cottrell, managing director for Art for People, Inc., organizers of the event. “The art just sparkles there.”
While set to showcase more than 150 artists, many of whom are local, and approximately 3,000 unique pieces of original art, the annual fine arts festival will also offer a weekend full of food, music and plenty for the kids to do.
In order to keep the event free to the public and exhibitor costs low, ArtWalk on the Bay depends upon their sponsors to underwrite costs. A new sponsor this year is CODA Automotive, developers of all-electric cars. Italian mobile-artist Matthew Watkins created a “skin” for a CODA car, created with digital finger painting on his iPad. The car will be on display at Art Walk on the Bay (see photo below).
A new and improved KidsWalk area will keep children busy all day long with interactive art activities.
KidsWalk is co-sponsored by ArtReach, a non-profit arm of ArtWalk that identifies local schools where art programs have been severely cut back or eliminated completely. ArtReach then brings professional artists in to the identified schools to work with the children.
Also sponsoring the new KidsWalk area is the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, San Diego Creative Weaver’s Guild, Rhythm Worx (a drum and percussion group), fine art classes with Larisse, and the New Children’s Museum. Each organization will offer fun and creative hands-on projects for kids in attendance.
In addition to the vast array of artwork on display and the kids area, there will also be an extensive food court and an entertainment stage. This year’s musical lineup for Saturday includes: Steven Ybarra, Robin Henkel, Jeffrey Joe, Brad Perry, Manny Cepeda and Josh Damigo, each set to play 45-minute performances. On Sunday, Vanja James, Jesse LaMonaca & the Dime Novels, The Black Sands, Dan Diego Symphony, Saba, and Neon Cough will perform. For specific times, see the artwalkonthebay.org website.
Although not a juried art show, Cottrell said each artist accepted for ArtWalk on the Bay goes through “an extensive selection process to ensure a unique vision, use of medium, and professional display,” and organizers work hard “to seek a balance” in the types of art chosen.
More than half of the artists who make the cut are from San Diego, with other artists coming from other regions, such as: Orange County, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Arizona, the Bay Area, and even Mexico.
“We have a huge database that we use to interact with our artists all year round,” Cottrell said. “Some attend both events every year, some just do one. Many of the artists make their living by moving from festival to festival.”
Local artist Stephanie Clair, self-described as a “modern day romantic painter with a European cubist influence,” has been participating in the local ArtWalk events for over ten years.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Clair said. “I love that it’s the biggest, baddest art event that San Diego puts on, and [its] a chance for me to see all my devoted collectors and friends, and [meet] new collectors in a fun, open, sunny, outdoor setting.”
For ArtWalk on the Bay, Clair said she plans to have many of her new original works, including some inspired by Hawaii and Tuscany, as well as some new mini-giclees. She promises to have artwork in prices affordable for all budgets.
Clair does between seven-to-eight shows around the country per year, but also has a local studio in South Park where customers can meet her by appointment. To make an appointment, visit her website at stephanieclair.com.
ArtWalk on the Bay is sponsored by “The Big Bay” (Port of San Diego), Hilton San Diego Waterfront, Scripps Heath, Penta Water, SDGE and Whole Foods. For more information about Art Walk on the Bay or San Diego Art Month, visit artwalkonthebay.org or artsmonthsd.com.