May 20 & 21 at Reston Town Center
Presented by Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE)
The renowned Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival has grown its reputation for many reasons, and now in its 26th year, it’s a good time to take a look at why. This is not your average art and craft show – it brings a quality of art and a quality of life that makes Reston proud. Art Fair Insiders, a national publication for artists and art show aficionados, now ranks Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival at #18 in their list of the best outdoor art festivals in North America – a rating derived from input from the exhibitors and thousands of attendees. What sets this event apart from other art fairs is the quality, accord, and community involvement led by Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE). To select 220 artists for the festival out of more than 1,000 applicants from the U.S. and abroad, GRACE’s juried system is controlled by a panel of independent professionals to ensure an outstanding experience at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival each year.
To support the artists who travel so far to be here, and to assist with the event’s success, GRACE enlists more than 500 volunteers—yes, five hundred—for essential tasks such as helping with artist hospitality, greeting festival visitors, promoting GRACE, encouraging creativity at the Family Art Park, and more. Providing a few hours to a full day of their time, individuals, families, and groups of friends from Reston and beyond make this event happen.
To operate the festival, GRACE relies on the infusion of funding from top tier sponsors all the way down to $100 for the Adopt-An-Artist campaign. Reston Community Center, Reston Town Center Association, The M Group Architects + Interior Architects, Wegmans, The Counter, and the host venue, Reston Town Center, are among the valued sponsors who provide important services and funding. Viva Reston Lifestyle joins the ranks of those who understand the event’s significance and provide their support.
Another essential component of the festival is fundraising for GRACE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Philanthropy sustains its extensive year-round programming that brings 80,000 people to the gallery and makes it possible to serve 40 schools in the DC region with “GRACE Art” education. Festival artists rent booth space to sell their original paintings, mixed-media, photography, sculpture, jewelry, and fine craft, but GRACE does not receive income from art sales. Instead, a $5 per adult donation is requested at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, and in turn GRACE provides the robust program that contains details, art images, and dining certificates for local restaurants.
Throughout the 2-day event, Reston Community Center presents exclusive dance performances in the parks at Reston Town Center. The professional dances are choreographed to respond to the public art sculptures, providing another unique experience, along with pockets of acoustic music throughout the 11 blocks of the festival. A big draw to the event is the free Family Art Park in the Pavilion, where all ages get the opportunity make their own creations while enjoying GRACE’s acclaimed activities.
Let the Festivities Begin – Friday Night at the Pavilion
Before the weekend of exhibits and entertainment begins, GRACE starts the festivities on Friday night at the Festival Launch Party in the Pavilion. All are welcome to join in the fun of the “creative cocktail attire” friend-raiser celebration and mingle with the artists. The ticket price of $50 benefits GRACE and includes beverages, a build-your-own-burger bar from The Counter, the festival program, and a silent auction of exciting getaways, culinary workshops, spa and golf packages, and more.
Garage parking at Reston Town Center is free every weekend, and also for the event on Friday, May 19.
GRACE’s Mission – Community Enrichment through Participation
Based on results of University of Waterloo’s 2016 research for the Index of Wellbeing, it’s now more important than ever to make arts experiences accessible to all. “Like leisure time, cultural participation is beneficial because it can promote mental health, socializing, and learning.” For 43 years, GRACE has been in sync with this finding with their mission “to enrich community life by promoting excellence and involvement in the visual arts.”
About 30,000 patrons who come to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival each year know it’s the one to attend. Find out more by calling GRACE at 703-471-9242 or stop by their gallery at 12001 Market Street at Reston Town Center, and visit the GRACE website, restonarts.org. Click on Fine Arts Festival to learn about the artists, volunteering, how to Adopt-an-Artist, and everything else about this year’s event.