The 2016 Beaches Art Fest brought visitors by the dozen to a sun-drenched strip of Pablo Avenue in Jacksonville Beach, where artists and patrons alike gathered Oct. 1-2 for the weekend-long juried art event.
Organized by the Beaches Museum and History Park and Driftwood Jacksonville Beach, the festival presented both local and national artists who displayed their works to a steadily-growing crowd. Fine jewelry, oil paintings, ceramic dishes and glass sculpture made up just a small selection of works lining the street – a selection that visitors said continues to expand each year.
“We just love this festival,” said Margaret McLaughlin, who returned to the festival with her twin sister, Elizabeth Hellrung. “It’s so exciting to see how it’s gotten so much bigger over time.”
Artists echoed that sentiment, citing Jacksonville Beach’s unwavering support for the arts and a community of equally enthusiastic individuals as distinctive features of the festival. Exhibitor Debbie Stillman brought her artisan jewelry to the festival for the first time to showcase her precious metal clay designs to a crowd she said showed true appreciation to all of the creators at the event.
“It’s just such a neat area,” she said. “It’s not always easy finding festivals where there’s a mutual understanding and appreciation of art … it’s nice to be at (a festival) where people understand and respect the work of the artists.”
Beaches Museum and History Park Executive Director Christine Hoffman was also in attendance, praising the efforts of an artistic community that never fails to show support for one another.
“We’re so excited to have our third year here, having taken the steps toward making this festival a two-day event,” she said. “We listened to the artists and to the visitors and we’re glad we were able to make this happen for them.”
“This event is something that represents the heart of Jacksonville Beach,” she continued. “And we want to see it continue to grow.”