By Sarah Jane Weill
The Armonk Outdoor Art Show, ranked as one of the “Elite 100 Fine Art Craft Shows” by Art Fair Sourcebook as well as one of the “Top Fine Art and Fine Craft Shows” in the New York Metro Area by Sunshine Artist Magazine, is back for its 54th year this September. With approximately 8,000-10,000 visitors from the tri-state area annually, there is a lot of anticipation leading up to the show.
A community-supported event, there are approximately 300 people working on the completely volunteer-run show. In particular, the five co-chairs: Stacy Wilder, Marian Hamilton, Debbie Heidecorn, Ava Zukowsky, and David Africk begin working on the next year’s Show almost immediately after the conclusion of the current year’s event. There are always things to be done to “keep it fresh,” says Wilder of the preparation. “What does change is not always noticeable…much of it is ‘behind the scenes.”
The Art Show consists of about 185 exhibitors, 42 of which will be new to the event. All artists have to apply, with the exception of the previous year’s award winners who are automatically welcomed back. The applicants are reviewed by the Art Show jury, which is comprised of about twelve local jurors, all of whom have varied professional art backgrounds. “The Art Show jury meets twice a week in the spring for about six weeks reviewing applicants,” explains Judy Moniz, who is in charge of the jury. “The show is quite competitive,” she adds. This year, there were approximately 550 hopeful applicants.
The artists are divided into eight categories: printmaking, drawing, pastels; oils and acrylics; photography and digital art; sculpture; watercolors; mixed media; fine arts; and wearable art. Awards are given for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mention in each of the categories. There is also an award for Best-in-Show, which, last year, was presented to Robert Hessler for his work in pottery. At the end of the first day of the Show, three new judges, all of whom also have professional art backgrounds, decide the winners following detailed discussions and careful scoring of all the artists’ work. The distinguished ribbons are then handed out on the second morning of the show. “Artists from throughout the country, as well as from Canada and Israel, will be exhibiting this year,” Moniz says.
For the second year now, there will also be a booth of high school student artists at the Art Show. Approximately ten artists from the Byram Hills’ AP art program will be exhibiting. These students also had to apply to the Art Show, and were juried for selection. The addition of local student artists establishes another great connection to and within the Armonk community.
The Art Show puts out a detailed directory displaying all the artists and images of their work. This is a unique approach for this type of event and, as a result, it is very “popular among the artists…it’s a big draw,” explains Wilder. “A lot of work goes into making [the directory], ” she continues, “it sets the show apart” as it showcases the artists beyond the Art Show itself. The student artists and their work will also be fully featured in the directory this year.
There’s a lot to do at the show, for people of all ages and interests. Primarily, attendees visit various artists’ booths and have the opportunity to engage with them and learn about their work firsthand; a truly unique opportunity for art-lovers of all kinds. Free guided-tours are also organized at the show, during which tour guides escort people through the event at scheduled times; each tour focuses on different aspects of the show, specifically planned so that all interested attendees will be able to find at least one tour that appeals to them.
Personal shoppers are likewise available to help those looking to purchase art, perhaps with an eye toward some home decorating. There are also events for children: an art booth at the back of the show featuring sand art, face painting, and other crafts, as well as a scavenger hunt that takes place throughout the whole venue. A food court with a wide selection tasty treats including some organic options, completes the scene.
This year, a transportation feature is being added to the Art Show. Castle Cab, an Armonk-based taxicab-company that uses App on-demand and advanced reservation requests, is acting in partnership with the Art Show to help bring more people to the event. Primarily, this will help New York City residents get to the show, as transportation can be difficult. Attendees who take the train from Grand Central Station to North White Plains will find will find Castle Cab cars waiting for them upon arrival. For a flat fee of $10 per car, instead of the usual rate of $18, the cars will take their passengers directly to the show and drop them off at a premium entry spot. When visitors are ready to leave the Show, the cars will be standing by to take them to the station. Or, if people are looking for a bite to eat or to do some sightseeing in town, the cars will accommodate travel to any local destination–to or from the show–for half price. This is an exciting new development and partnership, and will hopefully be a big draw for even more attendees, especially from places farther away.
The connections to the community deepen as net proceeds from the Art Show go to the North Castle Public Library. The annual event is the library’s biggest fundraiser, and benefits many aspects of the library including new programming, children’s programs, technology and facility upgrades. A recent example of funding allocation is the wonderful indoor playground in the children’s reading section. “The show has three levels of sponsorship,” Wilder explains, “gold, silver, bronze and also additional sponsors and community supporters”. All are listed in the Art Show’s directory, which is also great exposure for sponsoring local businesses.
The Art Show will take place the weekend of September 26th – 27th, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The event goes on rain or shine. Admission price is $10, or $8 for senior citizens and coupon holders. The discount coupon is available for print on the Armonk Outdoor Art Show website: armonkoutdoorartshow.org. Ages 18 and under are free. There is ample free on-site parking for those driving themselves, as well as senior and parking. No dogs are allowed, not even art-loving ones!
With so much to see and do, the excitement for the Art Show is palpable. This event has become one of huge importance to the Armonk community. Not only is it a great place to see a variety of talented, diverse artists, but it is also a perfect opportunity to go out and enjoy the experience of being with people who share an enthusiasm for art and the town itself. Events like these are truly special, and so it is no surprise that after all of the hard work, year after year, it is a great success. Of course, this year will be no different!
Sarah Jane Weill attends Bowdoin college. She is a graduate of the Horace Greeley High School class of 2014.