If you’re stopping by the 34th annual Fine Arts @ Oxford exhibition and sale fundraiser expect to find not only a variety of new art selections and artists but also a new Artist Liaison chair, Jody Ware. Ware, a textile engineer by trade, is “well suited for the job,” praises Liza Ledford, the Center’s Executive Director who will “bring fresh eyes to a time-honored event. I am totally confident that her passion for finding interesting art will make for an incredible festival and bring in a new audience.”
Ware is no stranger to community involvement and after moving from Lewes, DE she embraced her new surroundings, becoming a supporter and active volunteer of the Oxford Community Center (OCC). This enthusiasm led to assisting her neighbor and longtime art festival coordinator, Cindy Reed. When Reed retired, Ware was hired for the position and immediately set out to try some new ideas. “Things need to be constantly growing,” is a statement she feels strongly about. Which is good news for Joe Fischer, President of the Board of Trustees at OCC, who would love to accommodate even more artists than the ones selected this year.
Under Ware’s direction, the event preparation began months ago when invitations were sent out to approximately fifty artists, some who’ve shown before and some who were identified by either Ware or her committee, to submit three images of their work for juried evaluation. Thirty-nine artists made the final cut based on their consistency, color, and style, including the work of Mary Ekroos, who is returning after a hiatus and previous Easton Plein Air Contest winner, Carole Boggemann-Peirson. Also on display is the 2018 featured artist, Steve Rogers, whose bold technique on one particular piece ended up working particularly well on a poster. “It’s the kind of picture that if you’re walking down the street, you see it and you have to walk back to see it again. It blows you away!” Ware says.
This enthusiasm encompasses the entire selection process: “This year has been much more competitive. The professional juror who made the final selections has elevated the quality of the art, making the competition better for both the artists and the clients,” Ware says. She predicts that the show will resonate well with anyone interested in art.
As in previous years, and one of the criteria for acceptance to the event, the artists, must be present during the entire weekend. This is important for everyone involved, as the artists tend to bring their fans, those who are interested in purchasing or just seeing art. “People recognize the names, and if you have a collection of artists of a certain caliber, they will come and buy,” Ware says, expecting an increase in the attendance.
Too much growth, however, does have its limit, particularly in terms of the physical space available for the artists, but Ware foresees a time when the show will expand into the outdoor area. For now, each room of the OCC will serve as a gallery browsing area, enhanced by the donations of flowers from the Oxford Garden Club. “I’m in discussion with this group on how best to use the space and show off the art and to ensure that the flow is beneficial to all artists.”
Good client and artist communication was also a priority which was made easier by Ware’s insistence on a robust website that will allow the artists to be featured, along with a link to their site. As for the future, Jody Ware looks forward to building on the success of this spring and will be keeping a keen eye on what is working to make sure things are fresh and growing, next year.
Fine Arts @ Oxford will take place on May 18th with a preview gala, and the 19th and 20th from 10-5pm. For more info and to purchase tickets for the event please go here
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.