La Quinta Art Celebration, the city’s new signature, fine arts festival, is on track for its March debut under the direction of Paul Anderson of Sausalito.
“We’re right on target to do exactly what we want to do, and we know it will be a major success,” Anderson said Friday of the event planned for March 5-8.
The jury process is complete, said Kat Hughes, a La Quinta resident who worked for years organizing the former festival and is now working with Anderson.
The event will feature 220 artists, including 14 who reside locally, Hughes said.
“We had 674 applications which is not bad for a two-month application period and it being a new show,” she said.
Jurors selected 233 artists, the majority of which are returning. Invitations to participate have been sent to 220 who have until Dec. 15 to respond, Anderson said.
Artists will exhibit in the categories of ceramics, digital art, 2D mixed media, 3D mixed media, painting, wood, sculpture, drawing and pastel, fiber, glass and photography.
Booths will be set up so that jewelers, for example, or photographers, are not clustered together. Rather, as patrons stroll each aisle, they will get a taste of different styles of art.
“It will be like you’re going to 220 different art galleries,” Anderson said. “Everybody will be showing off their work.”
Building on the tradition
La Quinta Art Celebration replaces the long-running La Quinta Arts Festival. La Quinta Arts Foundation announced in June that it was pulling the plug on the signature event it had put on in conjunction with the city since La Quinta was incorporated in 1982. The event had been voted No. 1 Fine Art Festival in the nation five of the past seven years by “Greg Lawler’s Art Fair SourceBook.”
The festival, which drew 5,000 to 8,000 people per day, had also earned the No. 1 Fine Art and Design Show 2019 recognition from Sunshine Artist.
Art is a big part of La Quinta’s brand – and history – and when the foundation said it was pulling out, the city began immediate steps toward continuing the tradition of a fine art event it had become known for worldwide.
It was important, officials and artists said, that the city not skip a year in holding an event, because it could drive artists and patrons to other festivals and then be a challenge getting them back.
The city put out a request for proposals and the council in August interviewed the top two candidates, unanimously deciding on Anderson, who for several years directed the Sausalito Arts Festival – an event many said is comparable to the La Quinta Arts Festival.
But because the foundation owned the trademarked La Quinta Arts Festival name, the city also needed to come up with a new name for its event.
In August it submitted La Quinta Art Celebration for trademark.
The application is still being processed, with about four to six months remaining for verification with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, City Manager Jon McMillen said, but officials are confident it will be approved.
McMillen said there have not been any challenges to the suggested name or application.
Anderson knows the quality of show people have come to expect from La Quinta and promises to deliver.
“I think of it as the tradition of art in La Quinta continues with celebration,” Anderson said.
He has added a few new features, including a margarita village and a wine experience featuring top wines from Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast situated toward the rear of the festival with shaded seating and a food court.
Bristol Farms and Brandini Toffee are among returning vendors, he said.
The first billboard for the event has been installed on Interstate 10, near the Bob Hope exit in Rancho Mirage.
“We are working feverishly on our website,” Hughes said.
The landing page is up, www.laquintaartcelebration.org, and the goal is to have the website up by Nov. 25, Anderson said.
Artists were selected by a blind jury composed this year of 36 peer artists, three per category, Hughes said.
“They judge independently from their homes or studios through an independent jury process developed by Zapplication,” she said.
Among the roughly 170 returning artists is Lake Tahoe-based photographer Dirk Yuricich, who has exhibited his work at the last six or seven La Quinta festivals.
The quality of artists, patronage and the venue and its views, and the fact that La Quinta’s show was ranked No. 1 nationally, all made it the event to apply and try to exhibit at, Yuricich said.
“There was massive panic among artists” when the foundation canceled the event, he said.
But when he learned that Hughes was organizing La Quinta Art Celebration, he felt comfortable applying and believes the quality of show will be equal to those put on by the foundation.
“I am confident this will be a great show and measure up in quality,” he said.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at email@example.com or (760) 778-4694. Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherry