It's time to paint the town red...or cerulean, magenta or burnt sienna. This month nearly 20,000 art enthusiasts will flood the First Tennessee Pavilion for the 4 Bridges Art Festival, held April 16-17. Attracting national and regional talent, the two-day art market is ranked as a top 100 fine arts fair in the 2011 Art Fair Sourcebook.
Money from art sales directly benefits the artists, yet Hamilton County enjoys an approximate $1.5 million impact from the annual event. This year, 150 artists - selected from almost 700 applicants - will exhibit painting, glasswork, jewelry, textiles, furniture, sculpture and more.
"4 Bridges is one of the best arts festivals in the country," says festival director Jerry Dale McFadden. "Every year it gets better as we continue cultivating it to its fullest potential."
Produced by the Association for Visual Arts (AVA), the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. As a juried show, artists are selected by a panel of AVA judges, and attendees are continually impressed by the consistently high quality of artwork. The show has earned a national reputation, attracting buyers from across the region and country.
"AVA always invites such a high caliber of artists, and I'm honored to be among them," says Atlanta artist Kristen Stingle. "What makes the experience special is the support and enthusiasm of AVA staff and volunteers."
In addition to fine art, the festival will also feature fine food with "Art of Cuisine" - a collection of local restaurants offering a "taste of Chattanooga" in a café setting. Chefs have been asked to showcase their culinary prowess as well as the art, story or creative genius that inspired their menu.
WHEN: April 16 & 17
HOURS: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Carter St.
COST: $7 for 18 and older, Guests under 18 FREE
MORE: all money from art sales goes directly to the artists; average annual economic impact on Hamilton County - $1.5 million
Proceeds from the event benefit AVA's year-round arts programming such as visual arts classes, education programs and exhibitions in its gallery on Frazier Avenue. For more than 20 years, AVA has served as a catalyst for establishing and empowering the local arts community. AVA also offers its members use of its state-of-the-art digital media lab and rental of a "clean room" photographic studio, which provides all the necessary items for a successful shoot including the camera, tripod and lighting. Today the nonprofit, run by a staff of just seven, enjoys a membership of approximately 600.