A new artist or first-time visitor inquiring about the Cottonwood Art Festival need only talk to Glenda Endres to find out if it’s time well spent. Endres, who marks her 14th year of volunteering at Cottonwood this May and was an exhibiting artist at the Festival for more than 30 years, would give them a resounding, “Yes!”
“This is one of the top shows in the nation,” said Endres. “It is very, very well-run—it’s only had two directors in its 50 years, and it really makes a difference having a staff that knows what they’re doing.”
Once a full-time potter, Endres first heard about Cottonwood while studying for her master’s degree in clay at Texas Women’s University, and tried out the Festival with a group of fellow art students.
“When I first exhibited, you placed your art on blankets,” she recalled. “You could not set up for the show before the day of the festival, so at 12:01 a.m. we’d throw our blankets down, claim our spots, put all our stuff out and wait there until morning to pay our booth fee.”
It soon became one of her favorite shows. Endres cites the Festival’s quality of artwork and number of exhibiting artists as factors that make it “click.” Cottonwood is a juried art show, limiting the number of artists accepted to around 240 (out of an average 1,400 submissions). Endres explained that good shows keep the right balance between artists and expected attendees—“If there are too many artists, it can be hard for any of them to earn enough to make it financially worth being there.”
She also likes how Cottonwood has evolved in its presentation, to where artists now bring shelving, tents, pedestals and backdrops to display their art “like a museum.”
As a volunteer, Endres helps stuff information packets for artists during the week prior to the Festival, helps with artist check-in, walks throughout the grounds two hours before opening to talk to artists and help troubleshoot, and continues troubleshooting throughout the weekend, sometimes being a booth “sitter” if an artist who’s working alone needs a break. Other volunteers help staff activities at ArtStop, the interactive children’s area.
“Cottonwood was good to me so it’s good to give back,” said Endres. “This keeps me in the loop, I get to come and see wonderful art, and buy it, too!” she laughed. “Volunteering in whatever you’re passionate about is a good way to give back to the community.”
The Cottonwood Art Festival will be held May 4-5 at Cottonwood Park. Visit www.cottonwoodartfestival.com.