A Beaux Blizzard

Art festival faces a big chill
Over 250 artists braved the frigid temperatures at the 52nd annual Union Planters Bank Beaux Arts Festival this past weekend to display their work at the fund-raising event for the Lowe Art Museum.
“It’s so cold here, even the dogs have sweaters!” said Janet Mendez, a Coral Gables resident who attended the event on Saturday.
The festival appears on The Larry Harris List of the Nations Best Art Festivals, and artists came from all over the U.S. to sell their work and be judged for a variety of contests.
The Beaux Arts Organization, with the help of the Coral Gables Cultural Arts Council and the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council, runs the festival every year.
“I enjoyed the event a lot more last year,” Mendez said. “The sun was brighter and warmer then, and I could pay attention to the paintings more because I wasn’t shivering as much.”
Randy Eckard, from Blue Hill, ME, has been displaying his watercolors in the festival for six years.
“The weather is definitely affecting attendance,” he said. “Those who have come out to the festival are in a hurry to get home.”
“If I had wanted to be cold I could have stayed in Maine,” Eckard said.
On average, 150,000 visitors attend the event each year, and over 250 vendors showcase their work.
Prices for artwork this year ranged from ten dollars to over $10,000.
“I bought this great necklace for $20. It’s just so different from anything I’ve seen before,” said freshman Jill Sanders of her heart shaped sea glass pendant. “I wish I could afford more, but unfortunately I have to pay for tuition.”
“I loved the handmade brooms with bicycle handles,” said Josiah Miller, who came down for the weekend to go to the event with his family.
“I loved the variety of the art,” Miller said. “There was blown glass and wooden sculptures as well as paintings and photographs from all over the world.”
The event also hosted a variety of food booths serving foods such as arepas, jerk chicken, beef kabobs, kettle corn, smoothies and dessert.
“I came to look at the art but spent more time eating,” said Sarah Roberts, a retired UM employee.
Many said that they would have enjoyed the event more if the weather had been warmer.
“I can’t believe how cold it is,” said Peter Anderson, who attended the event with his wife Janet and their four kids. “We come to the festival every year, but it has never been this cold. All my kids want to do is go home.”

Leigha Taber can be contacted at l.taber@umiami.edu.