Beaux Arts

Artful Improvisation

By Deserae E. del Campo

Artful Improvisation

By Deserae E. del Campo
Beaux Arts Festival 2021 shines online

For nearly 70 years, Beaux Arts Festival of Art has showcased the work of local and global artists on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus, awarding thousands of dollars in artist prizes and supporting children’s art initiatives.

Considered Miami’s longest-running fine arts show, the festival features artwork in mediums ranging from woodworking to watercolor, intricate etchings to splashy garden decor. The event debuted in 1951 as the "Clothesline Sale,” featuring artwork strung on clotheslines in front of the Lowe Art Museum. Strolling the now-multiple avenues along which the eye-catching exhibits of artistry are displayed remains a favorite pastime for thousands of visitors each year.

So, when members of the Beaux Arts board began planning for the 70th Festival of Art in 2021, the question on everyone’s minds was how to attract visitors to a festival that, for the first time in its history, would take place on a virtual platform.

“When the COVID pandemic situation became so dire, we weren’t sure if the festival would happen at all,” recalls Elizabeth Green, current president of Beaux Arts. “After much consideration, we decided to move forward and go virtual for the first time in the festival’s history. Despite the pandemic, we were committed to fulfilling our mission to the Lowe Art Museum.

“We realized immediately what a monumental task it would be, but we buckled down and we made it a success. It was definitely a team effort.”

More than 200 artists presented their work during the virtual Beaux Arts Festival. Just as gratifying, the digital event drew an impressive number of attendees—a delightful surprise for Green and the board.

“Artists reached out to us after the virtual show thanking us for keeping our word and not canceling,” Green says. “They got exposure, made new connections, and sold art pieces—all online.”  

“Best of all, we kept our commitment to the Lowe and made a $200,000 donation.”

Through fundraising initiatives like the annual Beaux Arts Ball and Beaux Arts Festival of Art, the organization is the largest group financial donor to the Lowe Art Museum, which is offering free admission for the year, thanks to the gift from Beaux Arts. While a decision is still pending on whether Beaux Arts will get the green light to return to campus for the 71st Beaux Arts Festival of Art in January 2022, Green has faith that the festival will be back—maybe even, if the stars align, in its real-life version.

“It is so important to support our local artists,” she notes. “Although our virtual festival was a success, there is something unique about attending the Festival of Art, meeting the artists in person and experiencing their work.”

Either way, the ingenious combination of technology and creativity that made it possible to celebrate the festival’s 70th birthday amid a devastating public health crisis ensures that, whatever the future holds, the show will go on.