Festival connects buyers with affordable visual art

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Meandering art lovers displaced the vehicular traffic on Cesar Chavez Street this weekend at the Art City Austin festival.

The two-day festival took over the stretch of Cesar Chavez Street from the Seaholm Power Plant to Lavaca Street where art was displayed that ranged from felt chicken footstools to hand-painted cattail reeds.

More than 12,000 participants checked out 180 art vendors from around the world, said Stephen Jeffrey, finance co-chair of Art City Austin. The festival has been going on in some form for 60 years, and all of the proceeds go directly to the sponsor, Art Alliance Austin, which promotes the visual arts around the city, he said.

Sally Ebright ­— an artist for the art company The City Girl Farm ­— along with her mother and sister, turned pieces of fallen farm logs, bronze metal and wool and Alpaca fleece into farm animal footrests.

“We usually get a really strong positive reaction from people who walk by,” Ebright said. “The people light up and laugh when they come by.”

Monique Capanelli, founder of Articulture Designs, said she thought prices for art were in the middle to low range.

“Most people are looking for cash-and-carry art, but there are some serious art collectors, too,” she said.

Capanelli designs what she describes as “living art,” which are medium-sized glass enclosures decorated with sand, cacti and colored glass pieces.

“I’m very purposeful with what I choose to put in there,” Capanelli said. “Some kids describe them as a fairyland with a path that might lead somewhere.”

Bands and DJs provided musical entertainment on the steps of Austin City Hall throughout the festival.

Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop offered a free bicycle valet on the South First Street bridge. Participants who rode their bikes were granted free entrance as part of the festival’s green initiative, which also included a compost and recycling program.

The festival also included a kid’s arts-and-crafts section where children could make spin-art CDs and create their own playground using movable foam building blocks.

“The children come out and dance,” said Madi Ward, McCallum High School sophomore and unicycle performer. “I ride around on my unicycle, and people are happy to walk alongside me.”


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