In Its 31st Year, Southwest Arts Festival is Still Breaking Records.
Perfect Weather, Beautiful Art, and an Amazing Atmosphere Ushered in One of the Largest Charity Fundraisers in the Coachella Valley By Scott Alvarez / CoachellaValley.com
In a bid to break the attendance record of 2016, The Southwest Arts Festival added an additional day for attendees. Expanding to 4 days allowed the artists to set up and prep their stands without the feeling of being rushed. This years event featured over 240 artists from all around the United States. Escorted by Diana Soto, Vice-President of events for the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, we began our tour of the festival and our first stop was Glenn Powell from Seattle. Glenn took some time to show us his wonderful jewelry. In his fourth year at the Southwest Arts Festival, Glenn Powell said, “Its [attendance] been growing. The weather out here is perfect, so you can’t complain about that. Especially after that week of rain that just hit this valley”. Being from Seattle, Glenn Powell was excited that the Coachella Valley weather was back on track exemplifying the beauty of the festival and the surrounding landscapes.
This festival is a great way to expose yourself to all different types of art. I am not an art aficionado, but I loved seeing the different types, being able to ask the artists questions, and I really enjoyed the weather while walking around. Watching the artists as they created new works was also a great treat. Attendees were able to enjoy the creative process of pottery, glass blowing, and watching fine art paintings on display.
Some of the unusual pieces on display were also eye-catching. One display featured antique spoon and fork jewelry. Ashley Dobson was the artist behind the unusual jewelry. When asked how she got into making jewelry from antiques, she said, “I’ve always liked antiques… my mom incorporated antiques in her artwork and I noticed how pretty it was… Me and my sister found a way to bend and figured out a way to make jewelry”. Its this type of informal interaction that I believe makes this such a wonderful arts festival.
The informal interaction allowed us to have a wonderful conversation with artist Ganna Halvorson. Ganna had a wonderful display of her oil paintings, but these were not your typical oil paintings. Her paintings are textured and have a 3D feel to them. As Diana Soto put it, “When you step away from the painting, you see yourself staring down the path underneath these snow trees in this painting. Usually, when you see landscape art, there is a point of reference that the artist works with. Typically, artists will use photos, sketches, or create the painting on location. Ganna Halvorson is not your typical artist. As we walked around and watched her working on 5 projects, I began to realize there was no point of reference anywhere to be found. Ganna stated, “This is my process. It’s all inspirational. I begin with a blank canvas… it’s all my imagination”. It’s interactions like this, and the special tidbits of information straight from the artists that make art festivals around the Coachella Valley so memorable and fun to attend.
We concluded our tour with a visit to Poster Artist Nancy Roux. Nancy was honored as the 2017 Poster Artist when her submission “Mole’s-eye View”, which is a combination of 24 stills stitched together to make a 360-degree photograph of Joshua Tree National Park. She described her initial reaction to being chosen as the Poster Artist as, “Part of me thought it was a prank call and could not believe it… Honored. Just Honored”. She also praised the festival and explained why she keeps returning, “I feels like family. Everybody here is just wonderful. This show has a genuine sense of family. The volunteers love it and that shows. It’s a real feeling of cooperation with the artists and the volunteers that just make it great”. Being able to walk around and experience the festival as a first timer was very jaw-dropping. There was so much to see and experience during our tour, and we were the only local media network to go live and have an exclusive tour to show all of our fans. Be sure to watch the only live video tour of the Southwest Arts Festival with our exclusive guide, Vice-President of Events, Diana Soto.
This 12 year tradition continues…Vintage art, modern art, jewelry, photography, ceramics and much more is about to take over Old