Fort Worth

Eyeing the art: Main Street festival draws big crowds

Warm sunshine drew a lunchtime crowd hungry for springtime to the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival on Friday. Spectators toured the artists’ booths, snacked at food vendors or merely strolled the shady street.

“We just started out looking, but it’s awesome,” said Bobby Grammer of Fort Worth. “I come every year, and we’ve seen a little bit of everything.”

His friend Beccah Babroski of Granbury didn’t rule out a purchase later as they left a booth of ceramics, her favorite. “Each piece has its own emotion,” she said.

The four-day event began Thursday, and organizers expect some 375,000 people to attend through Sunday.

Just being accepted to exhibit at the well-respected festival is a feat, artists say. Of the 1,400 who applied to come to the juried show this year, only 215 were accepted.

“It’s kinda the Holy Grail of art shows,” said CeRee Hellums of Taylor, near Austin. She and her friend Kari Stringer make jewelry from sterling silver and metal cans at Fat Cat Studios. “We feel like we won the lottery to get to come again.”

After an initial appearance, they spent four years trying to come back.

Dan Pfeiffer of Fredericksburg had been rejected before, but this year his fanciful old electric fans serving as propellers for airplanes are drawing Main Street admirers despite their price tags ranging from $1,100 to $4,500.

He has been making the fans only within the past year, but “they accepted me on that, I think, ” he said.

Veteran artist Aaron Hequembourg of Monticello, Ga., said the Main Street juried show is “usually one of the top five” shows of its kind in the country in terms of crowds, customers and quality. He has not been to Fort Worth for the last two years due to a schedule conflict: His art was accepted into the Smithsonian’s show.

Hequembourg’s mixed-media engraved art portraits of the people of rural Georgia are crafted from the wood of sharecropper cabins, old books and papers, and other artifacts from his farm home, which has been in his wife’s family since the early 1800s.

Each work is exhibited with a photo of the subject and a short description.

“People like that connection, that it’s a portrait of an actual person,” Hequembourg said. Subjects get a portion of the $1,500 to $8,500 the paintings fetch.

Though on a smaller scale, Angela Timmons of Fort Worth was a serious lunch-hour shopper. She snapped up a hand-crafted leather notebook with paper pages recycled from old textiles.

“Actually it’s for my boyfriend,” she said. “It’s perfect. It’s from a branded cow and has an ‘M’ on it, which is his initial.”

Little Linlye Ashton, 4 months old and perched on her grandmother’s shoulder, took in one of the festival’s quieter delights Friday.

“She mainly loves watching the people,” said Linda Buckreis.

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