Eclectic Beaux Arts festival draws many to UM campus

A boy walks toward a 7-foot sculpture of a rusted, Terminator-like eagle, surrounded by people in awe saying, “marvelous” and “I would buy that.” He takes one look.

“OK Dad,” he says. “That is just ugly.”

This is one example of commentary heard from last weekend’s 57th annual Beaux Arts Festival of Art.

The festival, which is the largest fund-raiser for the Lowe Art Museum, attracted thousands of visitors to the University of Miami campus who came to enjoy the eclectic food, blues music and works of 250 different artists using 11 different mediums.

It is run solely by volunteers, and the purpose of the festival is to promote interest and appreciation of art, said festival chair Tracy Lorenzo.

Many artists participating also donate their work to be auctioned off to help raise money for museum maintenance and enhancements, as well as field trips to the museum for underprivileged elementary school students.

The event raised approximately $60,000 this year, said Lowe Art Museum curator Brian Dursum.

In addition to raising funds, the festival also awarded $20,000 in cash prizes. This year, the artwork of Ummarid Eitharong of Orlando was awarded the honor of “Best in Show.” With Batman action figures sharing the same space as black and white photographs of navy ships, his art represents a cross between an 8 year-old boy and an 80 year-old World War II veteran.

“It’s about peace and war,” Eitharong said. “Bottom line: It’s about human nature.”

UM alum Jacqueline Roch was asked to be the cover artist for the festival’s program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1988, and her featured piece was a pastel depiction of South Florida’s swamps and sawgrass.

When asked if she had any advice to give to graduating art students, she said to “not freak out [or] feel like you need a job, and start painting. Do what you love.”

Although the art was the main attraction, many were also drawn to festival by the smell of falafel, pad thai, crepes and quesadillas infusing the campus air. Sophomore Chelsea Sims said that it was the “smell of food from my dorm room” that lured her to the event. Junior Andrew Aidman wiped some gyros off his shirt and added, “That’s art in itself.”

Farah Dosani may be contacted at