Bethesda Fine Arts Festival next Saturday

ByElizabeth J. Bohn

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Get excited for art, entertainment, food & more at the annual Bethesda Fine Arts Festival on Saturday, May 14 (10am – 6pm) & Sunday, May 15 (10am – 5pm)! Stroll Norfolk & Auburn Avenues to see 100+ artist booths, listen to great music & enjoy food, wine & beer for the perfect weekend in downtown Bethesda.

All free and also plenty of free parking!

Details here.

You can see the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival 2022 artists here.

You know what’s coming next – my awards for top artists in the show.  As a brilliant juror, I can use my experienced eye from the thumbnails and website visits to award the Campello awards.

For the painters I liked  Zhiyi Li (from Enfield, CT) in Booth #66, and Thomas Williams (from Chicago, IL) in Booth #78.  

All three printmakers in the show are exceptional — I’ve written a lot about Joseph Craig English from Washington Grove, MD (Booth #84) – in this show John Pernell and Michael Nemnich are also quite good.

For Mixed Media, my top pick was Sandra Sedmak Engel, whose sensual work is a pleasure both to the eye and the eros that outdoor shows usually try to eliminate.

There are a lot of talented photographers in the show. See them all here. James Richmond from Titusville, Florida (Booth #76) went to Cuba and has the mandatory photos of old 1950s cars in Havana, as I understand that the Cuban dictatorship will not allow tourists (and photographers especially) to depart from the jailed island unless evidence is presented at the airport that photographs of the vintage cars have been taken.  

Pet peeve aside, Richmond has an exceptional eye for capturing the grace that is human kind, all the way from Portuguese card players in Old Europe to gorgeous indigenous women in Panama, to Cuban farmers in the brutalized Castro Brothers’ Workers Paradise.

Cuban farmer by James Richmond
Cuban farmer by James Richmond

It is a wonderful photograph, capturing the essence of the Cuban guajiro, his ancient Basque bloodlines still quite cleaning running through his veins as evidenced by the telltale ear lobe, a wide smile for the American tourist on his thin lips, and a hand-rolled Habano in his mouth, the envy of every smoker millionaire around the planet.

In the category of sculpture, Tanya Tyree caught my attention as her sculptures struggle between talented efficiency and a bit of whimsy. What is clear is a straight and unique vision being delivered by the (I suspect) very strong and skilled hands of this artist.

And the Campello pick for Best in Show?

It goes to painter Cassie Taggart from Rehoboth, DE in Booth #51.

Parachutes by Cassie Taggart
Parachutes by Cassie Taggart

While anyone can immediately see that Taggart’s work explore surrealism, what she has brilliantly done is to deliver a new 21st century version of surrealism, where her skilled painting talents marry it with fantasy, and the fantastical (which is different) as well as a healthy dose of narrative storytelling.  

It is “otherworldly” artwork deeply anchored in data which lives hidden in our ancestral brain.  This is work which once you buy it and hang it in your house, will dominate everything else which you have hung on those walls.

Go outside and see some artwork this weekend, talks to artists and artisans, eat some bad-for-you food and listen to some outdoor music.


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