The Bayou City Art Festival announced Monday that the October event's featured artist is Alabama naive Jeannie Maddox. Maddox's photo-realistic paintings of swimmers are highly collectible and sell world-wide. "Colleen," right, was created specifically for the festival, and will appear on billboards, T-shirts and posters promoting the event. But people unfamiliar with the festival's jury process might be asking, "Why not a local?"
BCAF executive director Kim Stoilis broke it down for us:
"We're not a crafts festival. We can't pay money for a booth and sell incense or Bob Marley T-shirts. We get applications from all over the world, and then we have a jury at the MFAH, so to be in our show you have to be juried in. And the judging panel changes every festival. From a pool of 1200 we get to 300, and we have a completely different onsite judging committee that is actually at the festival."
On choosing Maddox:
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"Everybody really liked her very realistic water paintings. And the idea of having these hyper-realistic swimmers coming out of billboards just sort of sold the committee and the board. [The featured art] has to have a certain amount of commercial appeal and strike a chord with the patrons."
On how Houston's economic climate has affected art sales at the event:
"In the past three years, every festival has been better than the last one. Art festivals on the whole are not doing well, but art festivals in Houston, where you have the economy that we have, and people still have discretionary income, they're doing very, very well. In a world where you have these national artists, like a theater group or a band, and they're trying to tour, they want to go where they're going to make money. There are [art festivals] that don't even get enough artists applying for them to even open the doors, whereas we get 1200 artists [applying], because we know they'll come. And even if they have to spend a bit more money to come to Houston, they will make money here without a doubt. We do an exit poll with our artists, so we know there are some who have $120,000 shows. The average artist makes $10,000."
"We have to be very on-task making sure that we have the absolute best of the best, and that people will continue to spend money. We've done well under the new "staycation" mode that everyone is in. You know, if you can't buy a new house, well, you'll buy art to put in your house. If you're not going to leave town, you'll make a full weekend out of going to a festival if there's a hotel deal or there's some sort of party. We've tried to cater to that."