A beloved Richardson event is celebrating the big 5-0 this year, and the city is taking a trip down memory lane May 4-5 in its honor.
Cottonwood Art Festival has been going strong since 1969, when the grassroots gathering had artists exhibiting their work on blankets and easels carted from home, on a first-come, first-served basis. They wore bell bottoms, halter tops, and tie-dyed shirts and sold macrame, paintings, and beaded jewelry. City organizers put up signs on telephone poles and placed advertisements in local newspapers, and it was free for anyone to attend.
That last part still holds true, as entrance to this twice-yearly event is gratis for festival-goers, but now the 260 or so artists are carefully selected from a pool of nearly 1,500 applicants.
For each juried show, artists exhibit their museum-quality work in 14 categories: 2-D mixed media, 3-D mixed media, ceramics, digital, drawings/pastels, fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metalwork, painting, photography, sculpture, and wood.
"Over the years, Cottonwood has grown and evolved," says Serri Ayers, superintendent of community events for the City of Richardson. "However, the purpose of the event has never changed — the focus remains on the art and ensuring a beautiful venue for all artists to showcase and sell their work."
Though visual art is the main draw of Cottonwood, there are plenty of other activities on the agenda as well. Bands and musicians playing everything from country to blues to soul to rock fill Cottonwood Park's two stages, and there's a veritable smorgasbord of food and drink options.
The Lakeside Courtyard Beer Garden tent has an epic lineup of craft beer from such local breweries as Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Community Beer Co., and Bishop Cider Co., while margaritas, prosecco, and wine round out the variety of beverages. Arrive early to the festival each day to partake in Mimosa Mornings, starting at 10 am.
Kids aren't left out either, with the ArtStop Children's Area providing craft projects for pint-sized Picassos. They can even go back in time (figuratively) with Retro Rockets and BotJoy, making their own robot or engineering a rocket in honor of the 1969 moon landing — the same year Cottonwood started.
"While the art education programs, community outreach, number of artists, and crowds have increased, the up-close-and-personal attention from the artists and the warm atmosphere of Cottonwood Art Festival have remained the same," says Ayers. "Looking back always inspires us to look forward with enthusiasm to the history yet to be written."
For more information on this year's Cottonwood Art Festival, head here.