Article: COCONUT GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL - 10 QUESTIONS WITH CAMILLE MARCHESE
COCONUT GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL - 10 QUESTIONS WITH CAMILLE MARCHESE
Coconut Grove Arts Festival Executive Director
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This upcoming Friday, Presidents Day Weekend 2024 is the renown Coconut Grove Arts Festival.
Coconut Grove has long been considered Miami’s original art district. In 1963, local theatre maven Charlie Cinnamon asked a handful of locals to recreate an outdoor Parisian exhibition as a publicity stunt for the Coconut Grove Playhouse’s production of Irma la Douce.
A native of New York, the Cinnamon moved to Miami in the late 50’s eager to make his mark on the city. It was a visit to the Coconut Grove Playhouse that finally launched him on his path to becoming a key figure in Miami’s arts world.
Sixty years later, the little clothesline arts fair is now known as Coconut Grove Arts Festival – one of the largest outdoor arts festivals in the nation.
The Coconut Grove Arts & Historical Association continues to honor his legacy with the tradition of providing the South Florida community access to visual, performing and culinary arts experiences. Today our Arts Festival attracts tens of thousands of people to the winding streets of Coconut Grove each Presidents’ Day weekend.
I sat down with the festival's Executive Director for a old school David Letterman "Top Ten" questions that give us an insiders look into what makes the festival such an institution and destination in South Florida.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL?
Because it’s COCONUT GROVE! And it’s consistently one of the top ten outdoor fine arts festivals in this country. Who wouldn’t want to worked in this amazing community? Monty Trainer, President, asked me to come onboard in 2021 and no one says. No to the Grovefather.
HOW DO ARTIST APPLY?
Artists from all over the world apply during our open application period in the summer. They submit 4 images of their art and one of their booths. The booth is important so we can see the level of professionalism. 5 Art Professionals from outside of Florida review and score each application. The artists are selected by their high scores.
ARE THERE QUOTAS IN EACH MEDIUM, HANDMADE JEWELRY VS. ART VS. SCULPTURE?
No, we simply take the highest scores in each category, however it is usually does work out to be a reflection of the total applications in each medium.
HOW DO YOU SELECT YOUR JUDGES?
For our application, we choose professional artists, educators, even other art show directors. For our awards given at the show ($50,000!!) we select the same, but we use our local community.
HOW MANY WINNERS DO YOU HAVE IN EACH MEDIUM?
We do not award by medium. We have one Best of Show ($5,000), 10 Gold ($2,000), 15 silver ($1,000), 19 Bronze ($500)
HOW PAST WINNERS HAVE GONE ON TO NATIONAL OR GLOBAL NOTARIETY ?
Many of our artists are famous internationally for their work.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE YOUNG ARTISTS (CHILDREN)?
- We give $75,000 in scholarships to Miami-Dade County graduating seniors and FIU students annually.
- We have a Visiting Artist program with the Miami-Dade County school systems. CGAF Artists are paired with MDCPS art classes for interactive art experiences. The program engages students from elementary through high school, exposing students to current working artists that share their stories of how they became an artist. CGAF 2023 Poster Artist, Ben Frey tells the story of meeting a young women years after working with her class. She walked into his booth and told him that after hearing him talk and seeing his Mixed Media work, she changed directions, went on to study Mixed Media Arts. This is why we do this!
- Our Emerging Artist Program, though in its second year, is attracting participants nationwide. The year Emerging Artists are paired with mentors (festivals artists) during the show. They are taught everything: how to price their work, how to set up a tent, load a vehicle to transport their work, etc. We work with them during the year to prepare applications for other shows and even help them with financial planning.
The second year, these same artists are featured in a group tent in the show.
HOW DO YOU CHOSE THE ARTIST FOR THE MUCH COVETED COLLECTORS ITEM "THE COCONUT GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL T-SHIRT"
We start with a vision. And then look for the artist that can deliver. This is our 60th anniversary. We were founded at the height of the Mid-Century Mod design period. We wanted a 60th logo that. Would reflex and harken back to that mid-mod period. We knew we wanted an image that would also evoke that time. Signe and Genne Grushovenko were just the artists to deliver this year’s icon image of old Coconut Grove and the Legendary Monty’s Raw Bar. We also pay a subtle homage to its original owner and our outgoing President, Monty Trainer.
WHAT DOES THE SHOW DO FOR THE COCONUT GROVE COMMUNITY?
Aside from bringing art to the community that won’t be seen elsewhere, we are an established tradition. We bring over 100,000 people into our small little gem by the bay. Restaurants, hotels and retail in the area all benefit from our event. It’s also a sense of community. We have over 300 volunteers that come back every year, there’s a sense of pride that they exhibit.
David Whitaker, CEO & President of Greater Miami Visitors and Convention Bureau says that without the Coconut Grove Arts Festival there would have been no Basel. What started as a promotional stunt for the Coconut Grove Playhouse in 1963, grew into a world-renown arts festival. We established Miami as an art center long before Wynwood and Basel.