The arrival of fall brings an artistic celebration back to Bradley Fair. Nearly 100 artists from across the country will display in 13 categories at the third annual Autumn and Art this weekend.
The event, put on by Wichita Festivals Inc., is a chance for the community to experience a diverse array of creative talent. Organizers say it’s a unique offering that they hope will continue to grow in popularity.
“It’s a really great event for our community,” said Janet Wright, chief executive and president of Festivals Inc. “It puts us on the map, and gives us something to look forward to that, for the most part, you really only find in big cities.”
The festival is fashioned after similar offerings in the Midwest like the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver and the Kansas City Plaza Art Fair. With offerings sprawled out along Bradley Fair Parkway, attendees are able to view and purchase art while enjoying food from Bradley Fair eateries including Fresh Market and On the Border. Live music from local favorites including Jenny Detra, Bruce Huss and the Friends University Jazz Quartet will make it a multi-sensory affair. Artists will display in a variety of media, including ceramics, 2-D and 3-D mixed media, drawings, fibers, jewelry, photography, sculpture and wood. There also will be an interactive children’s area and live art demonstrations.
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A Patron Party, featuring food from YaYa’s Euro Bistro and Newport Grill, a premium vodka station and a liqueur coffee bar, will offer an augmented experience in a separated area Friday night during the festival’s opening. Tickets are $75 and help cover the cost of the event. In addition to the food, there will be a live art auction, and guests will be able to vote for their favorite artists in the show for a cash prize award. Though the party is only open to ticketholders, the remainder of the festival will be open to the public for free Friday evening.
Wright said that attendance for the festival last year was between 12,000 and 15,000 and that she hopes good weather will bring more people out this year. She and her staff have received positive feedback during the previous two years, she said, and there’s hope that the event will continue to grow and be successful. Bradley Fair, she said, is an ideal locale.
“It attracts a lot of people to come from all over the city. It also brings people from out of town. It’s all the best that we can hope for in terms of a location,” she said. “The beauty of the lake around it also makes it just the perfect place.”
Artists apply to display at Autumn and Art and are selected by a panel of rotating jurors. Among this year’s pool is incoming Wichita Art Museum Executive Director Patricia McDonnell; Howard Ellington, Wichita Center for the Arts executive director; and Rollin Karg, artist and owner of Karg Art Glass. Different groups of judges award prizes in each category.
Wright said she spent a lot of time working to cultivate artists to attend. Many of the invitees and winners from other successful fairs were encouraged to apply. Wright also attended several festivals, including the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival, to personally converse with artists who she thought had something unique to offer. One of her goals in putting this event together, she said, has been to promote Wichita as an arts destination.
“The artists themselves are our best piece of marketing. If they like what they are seeing, they will tell other people,” she said. “All the artists who have exhibited in the past are really complimentary of Wichita, the amenities here and the people here. We’re hoping that allows us to draw people from other regions of Kansas to attend as the show grows.”