When a beloved local festival is entering its 48th year, you know it must be one heck of a good time. Held in Richardson's Cottonwood Park each spring and fall, Cottonwood Art Festival entices artists from across the country to show and sell their work at what many consider to be the premier art event in North Texas.
But the free two-day festival — scheduled this year for May 6-7 — celebrates the artistic importance of other forms too: live music, delicious food, craft beer, and a kids' zone that's guaranteed to give pint-size Picassos boundless inspiration.
The outdoor gallery setting encourages relaxed conversation between artists and visitors, making it easy for even visual art newbies to discover new styles and learn about the artistic process.
A jury selects who gets to exhibit, and this year more than 240 artists were chosen from the 1,400 that submitted. Expect to see 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.
Top local bands performing the best in rock, country, jazz, blues, swing, and folk make the weekend sing. The Courtyard Main Stage and the Food Court Stage each have a killer lineup, with the former boasting a view of Hunt Branch Lake to boot.
So now you've got tunes, a lake view, and hundreds of masterworks to admire — what's missing? A cold beverage, of course. Pay a visit to the craft beer garden to find local suds such as Revolver Blood and Honey, Rahr Ugly Pug, Lakewood Lager, Deep Ellum Blonde and Neato Bandito, Community Witbier, Franconia Dunkel, and Bishop Crackberry Cider.
Mimosa Mornings begin when the festival opens at 10 am, and margaritas, prosecco, and wine round out the available offerings.
There's food too, with vendors dishing out Tex-Mex favorites, Cuban sandwiches, fresh seafood, corndogs, kettle corn, shaved ice, Mediterranean munchies, roasted nuts, buttery Belgian waffles, fresh fruit smoothies, sweet and savory pretzels, wood-fired pizza, and barbecue.
Everyone fortified? Good, because now it's time to visit ArtStop, the interactive children's area with activities so fun, adults will wish they could join in too. More than 100 volunteers create a hands-on world of art for the festival's mini Monets, leading stations such as Throwin' Mud (a master potter teaches how to throw a pot or form a vase on an electric potter's wheel), Chisel Away (chip and sculpt on large blocks of plaster), Torn Tissue Stained Glass (use tissue, wax paper, and imagination to create a colorful, transparent framed piece of art), and Crazy Cool Caps (pile on ribbons, glitter, feathers, pom poms, foam shapes, and more for an over-the-top head-topper).
The yarn art trend gets the ArtStop treatment with Wee Weavers, where kids gather fallen twigs, build a base, and create their own weavings using colorful yarn and string. But there's also a colossal group weaving constructed from birch tree branches that anyone can add to, letting you leave your artistic mark on the Cottonwood Art Festival.
For more information, visit the Cottonwood Art Festival website.