ArtFest returns in person Friday in a different location after the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to move the three-day event online the past two years.
“It was successful in a way,” ArtFest manager Betsy Godlewski said of the online format. “It kept our artists engaged. It was important for them to have some kind of outlet when they couldn’t go to these in-person fairs, and it kept our visitors engaged with the artists. But I’ll tell you, across the board, it’s just not the same as being in person.”
ArtFest, Spokane’s largest juried art and fine craft fair, is Friday through Sunday and will return to its roots at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which puts on the event each year. The MAC hosted the event at Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition since 2005, as well as in 2000 and 2001 when the museum was under renovation. But it will move a few blocks north to the MAC, 2316 W. First Ave., where ArtFest started in 1985.
“We really wanted to emphasize that connection between the MAC and ArtFest, and sometimes in Coeur d’Alene Park it wasn’t clearly obvious that this was the MAC’s event,” Godlewski said.
About 50 artists – most from the Pacific Northwest – will display and sell their artwork in booths on the MAC’s front lawn, according to a MAC news release. The art includes ceramics, painting, jewelry, photography, printmaking, furniture, metalwork, wood, drawing, fiber art, digital art and wood.
“The artists are terribly excited to be coming back,” Godlewski said. “They always have loved the Spokane venue.”
She said it’s often the first art fair of the year for artists.
“There’s just nothing like being able to talk to the artists, look up close at their materials and their work and have a conversation with them,” Godlewski said.
The three-day event also features live music, food trucks, a beer garden and a Make-it-Art children’s area.
The children’s art area is designed to encourage children 12 and under to create art to take home, the release said. There is no charge to participate.
Godlewski said organizers will keep ArtFest smaller this year so they can work out the logistics of the first year back since the pandemic.
Plus, she said, they wanted to give artists and visitors more space for physical distancing because of COVID-19.
“There’s lots of room to grow it and that’s what we’re hoping to do in the coming years,” she said.
Godlewski said all art sale proceeds go to the artists. For a list of artists and their work, musicians, food trucks and beer that will be at ArtFest, visit artfestspokane.com.