Event to showcase artists from across the nation
One of the Southeast’s most popular tourist destinations is about to be swimming with artistic talent when the City of Gatlinburg presents its inaugural Fine Arts Festival this spring on May 21 and 22. The event will be held on the aquarium plaza and River Road, along the banks of the Little Pigeon River, in the center of downtown Gatlinburg.
The works of over 60 artists from around the country will be on display, and entries will span 17 different types of media including sculpture, basketry, ceramics, painting, photography, digital art, jewelry, and mixed media.
According to Karl Thomas, director of marketing for Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the pool of featured artists was handpicked. “We had more than 130 applicants for this festival, but a jury of some of the Southeast’s most notable art critics selected only the best of the best” Thomas says. “All the work on display at the festival will be original works of art. Guest will be able to view or purchase art for a simple country home to a mansion on the hill.”
In addition to the art exhibits, the festival will feature select live music and food vendors that will feature local delicacies. “This is a great event for families,” Thomas says. “It will be a fun way for our visitors and residents to enjoy a spring weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains.”
Proceeds of the event, raised primarily through sponsorships, will benefit the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and the Sevier County Arts Council. Arrowmont, which is located directly across the Parkway from Ripley’s Aquarium, is an internationally recognized visual arts center, providing educational experiences for artist year ‘round.
More than $2,000 in cash awards will be given to the first-, second-, and third-place winners in the 2-D and 3-D categories. In addition, these winners will automatically be invited back to participate in next year’s Fine Arts Festival, and the first-place winners will receive a gift certificate toward tuition for a week-long class at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.
The festival, which has been in the works for more than a year, was the idea of Bob Masterson, president of Ripley Entertainment. “Bob has repeatedly expressed that Gatlinburg was a perfect venue for a fine arts festival,” says Thomas.
Gatlinburg, which hosts some 9 million visitors annually and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which welcomes 1.6 million visitors annually, offered to host the event based on its central location and volume of foot traffic. “We expect a very large turnout,” Thomas adds.
Festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday the 21st, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday the 22nd. Admission is free to the public.