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Why I’m Looking Forward to ArtsQuest

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By Lesha Maureen Porche


Every year I do a few art festivals. I’ve been doing a small circuit of festivals since 2011, and I love the outdoor settings (mostly) and the joy of setting up an entire gallery and retail store in three hours for two days (mostly).


Art festivals require artists to provide their own (or rent) 10’ x 10’ or 12’ x 12’ white tents complete with entire merchandising displays. We artists essentially create an entire store for you to view our art, and we try to create an experience that is both professional and accessible in a small space, often showing our entire collections in the space of a few hours of setup.


There is something immediate and fun about a pop-up show, like a festival, versus a gallery show. Artists get to connect with people in a pressure-free casual way that allows for natural interaction and truly spontaneous appreciation of our art.


And each year, I especially look forward to ArtsQuest. ArtsQuest is one of the highest quality art festivals in the area. It’s juried, which means you have to apply to get in and then your acceptance is decided by a jury of panelists based upon merit. Additionally, ArtsQuest is judged, which means cash prizes are awarded once the show is set up.


But mostly I look forward to it because of my first ArtsQuest back in 2012. I was in the hospital for a few weeks, and I had applied to ArtsQuest earlier in the year. I didn’t get in. I was disappointed but not crushed. There would be other shows, I told myself, other times to apply. But while I was in the hospital I got an email saying I had been accepted via the waiting list for ArtsQuest 2012 in Seaside. (The show is now held Mother’s Day weekend at Grand Boulevard in Sandestin.)


I was thrilled. The excitement of preparing for a show two weeks after discharge helped me recover my strength and push myself to get better so I could exhibit. I completed two extra paintings just for the show, and it helped me get better and believe that I could do good things in the festival circuit. I had confidence, where before I just felt beaten down from being so ill.


Every year I exhibit at ArtsQuest, I feel a bright resurgence and energy in knowing I’ll be surrounded by great quality artists, excellent music and a happy, appreciative crowd.


Every year I anticipate this show, knowing it was instrumental in getting me through a very rough part of my life.


Every year I look forward to the beautiful art shining around me, reminding me that art is transformative in more than just aesthetic appeal, but in its power to change lives.


Come see all of us Mother’s Day weekend, May 13 and 14.

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