This year marks the 50th anniversary of the City of Richardson’s long-running, prestigious Cottonwood Art Festival. Since its humble start in the spring of 1969, Cottonwood Art Festival has become a favorite tradition for the community and an anticipated event for Texas and for artists across the nation.
Throughout its history, Cottonwood Art Festival has grown to be a juried semi-annual art show that features work from the nation’s top visual artists. Produced by the City of Richardson’s Community Events Department, the festival is a free, two-day event that happens twice a year in scenic Cottonwood Park.
Fifty years ago, Cottonwood started as a way for local artists to have a place to set up their easels, spread their work on the ground, and sell their art. In the beginning, it was free to any artist who wished to participate and any art lover who wished to attend. For the artists, entry was on a first-come, first-served basis. They wore bell bottoms, halter tops, and tie-dyed shirts and sold macramé, paintings, and beaded jewelry. City organizers put up signs on telephone poles and placed advertisements in local newspapers and the show was off and running.
As the years progressed, so did the popularity of the show. Soon, it became necessary to charge the artists an entry fee. Today, approximately 1,400 artists from around the country submit their work for consideration at Cottonwood. For each show, jurors select more than 240 artists to exhibit their museum-quality work in 14 categories: 2D Mixed Media, 3D Mixed Media, Ceramics, Digital, Drawings/Pastels, Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Leather, Metalwork, Painting, Photography, Sculpture and Wood.
“Over the years Cottonwood has grown and evolved,” said Serri Ayers, superintendent of community events for the City of Richardson. “However, the purpose of the event has never changed – the focus remains on the art and ensuring a beautiful venue for all artists to showcase and sell their work.”
Throughout the years, renovations to Richardson’s Cottonwood park were made to accommodate the growing popularity of the art show. The trees, lake and general beauty of the park has a relaxing atmosphere which cause people to want to stay all day. Each May and October, the park is transformed into a wonderful haven of art, music and fun for all ages. The festival includes live entertainment from local and regional bands, a hands-on art area for children, a craft beer garden, a select group of fine food vendors and much more!
“While the art education programs, community outreach, number of artists, and crowds have increased, the up close and personal attention from the artists and the warm atmosphere of Cottonwood Art Festival has remained the same,” said Ayers. “Looking back always inspires us to look forward with enthusiasm to the history yet to be written.”
About Cottonwood Art Festival
Now in its 50th year, the semi-annual Cottonwood Art Festival is a juried show. Jurors have selected more than 240 artists to exhibit their museum-quality work at the festival. The artists compete in 14 categories: 2D Mixed Media, 3D Mixed Media, Ceramics, Digital, Drawings/Pastels, Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Leather, Metalwork, Painting, Photography, Sculpture and Wood. The artists’ works are available for purchase, as are food and beverages.
- The 2019 festival dates are May 4-5 and Oct. 5-6.
- Cottonwood Park is located at 1321 W. Belt Line Rd., one block east of Coit Road in Richardson.
- Parking and admission are free.
Whether shopping for art, listening to music, enjoying the outdoors, or making art of your own – Cottonwood has something for everyone. For more information, go to:
- Facebook – www.facebook.com/CottonwoodArtFestival
- Twitter www.twitter.com/CAFRichardson