If you're an outdoor art festival organizer, you hope, even pray for cool temperatures, overcast skies and no wind. That's pretty much what Barry Witt and Susan Bridges got on Saturday, which was the first day of the March edition of the Bonita Springs National Art Festival.
Witt is Bonita National's Festival Director; Bridges serves as president of the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs. Together, they've made Bonita National one of the highest ranked outdoor art fairs in all of Southwest Florida. According to the trade journal Sunshine Artist Magazine, the January edition of this festival was the #11 art festival in the entire nation in 2011 and the March festival came in at #27.
The Art Fair SourceBook, another source for festival rankings, rated the January 2011 Bonita Springs National Art Festival at #10 in the country. In this publication, both the January and March festivals have traditionally ranked in the top 20 in the United States out of thousands of art festivals that are held each year. Presumably, the only reason the February festival wasn’t ranked within the top 100 was because 2011 was its inaugural year.
The rankings are based on surveys completed by participating artists, and while amenities and the staff's efficiency and courtesy certainly factor in, sales outweigh most other considerations. So it was a good sign on Saturday that the aisles at Bonita National were clogged with festival-goers carting bubble-wrapped paintings and sculptures of every size and genre to their cars.
Bonita National is known nationwide for the quality of its art, which made the judging even more difficult than usual. But when the scores were finally tabulated, the winners were:
- Best of Show: Albert Benedict, Sculpture
- Best of 2D, Patricia Kessler, Watercolor
- Best of 3d, Dan Murphy, Sculpture
A number of awards of distinction were also given out. The recipients were:
- Terri Causey, Mixed Media 2D
- John Costin, Graphics
- Terry Evans, Wood
- Wayne Gao, Mixed Media 3D
- H.J. Herrera, Photography
- Kit Karbler, Glass
- Ning Lee, Oil/Acrylic
- Shannon Macklin, Metal
- Jeff Ripple, Oil/Acrylic
- Kostas Ulevicius, Clay
- Scott Wilson, Watercolor
- Tricia Young, Jewelry
Proceeds raised through the festivals from donations made at the gate and artist application and booth fees stay in Bonita Springs and are used by the Center for the Arts to provide scholarships, exhibitions, community events, and low-cost youth and adult art programming and classes.