The Lexington Art League knows all about putting on events.
Dotting the calendar for the visual arts institution are monthly Fourth Friday bashes that bring visitors to its main base at the Loudoun House and opening parties for exhibits that include the annual Nude show. But all of those events are dwarfed by the Woodland Art Fair, which is Saturday and Sunday at Woodland Park.
One of the signature events on the Lexington arts calendar, the fair annually brings in thousands of patrons to peruse the wares of 200 artists. There also are entertainers and activities.
"It relates to what we do here, but it's different, as well," Art League marketing director Andrea Coates says during an interview at the Loudoun House. She says organizing the Woodland Art Fair is a year-round job and, "here at the Loudoun House, it's another year worth of work, organizing the exhibitions, and engaging the artists and the community that we do here. The fair is the same in that we are involving living artists and art that is now and bringing artists from all over the country and sometimes the world to Central Kentucky.
"The way it is different is here at the Loudoun House, we are presenting art exhibitions that are on an engagement level, exhibitions that are conceptual in that they are not only appealing on an aesthetic level but also give the viewer a chance to see the concepts that the art is based on. At the fair, there are certainly artists that are making art work for a conceptual reason, but it's also functional, and it's meant for you to buy to put into your home."
And of course, it is different in size.
One thing that is also different this year is the name.
The official name for the event is: the 36th Annual American Founders Bank Woodland Art Fair presented by S.C. Johnson All-in-One Cleaning System. But promotions for the event emphasize the words Woodland Art Fair. For a few years, the event had been named the AFB Art Fair @ Woodland Park.
"That was a decision the marketing folks over at the bank and here at the Lexington Art League came to for the fair's brand," Coates says. "A lot of people know it as the Woodland Art Fair. That's what it's been traditionally known as. So we think that moving forward, it helps with the success of the fair and the bank as our title sponsor."
Coates says getting away from the Woodland Art Fair name was confusing for some people. But she also said that having the financial and practical support of sponsors such as American Founders Bank, S.C. Johnson and others is vital because the Art League can't present the event alone.
Everyone on the Art League staff has significant responsibilities related to the event, including corralling more than 100 volunteers and coordinating the selection of artists for exhibit booths. Then on the ground in the park, the city's Division of Parks and Recreation plays an essential role in setting up the fair.
Despite the economic recession, which has made it harder for artists to travel due to gas prices and for what can often be a smaller return on their investment in the event, Coates says, this year's fair saw a record number of applicants, with more than 600 vying for the 200 booths. The Art League attributes that level of interest to the fair's enduring status as one of the best art fairs in the Southeast, according to sources such as Sunshine Artist Magazine and the Southeast Tourism Society, which has named the fair a Top 20 event.
Maintaining that status means an all-hands-on-deck weekend for the Art League, which will get Monday off. But then it's back to work because, as Coates notes, "Fourth Friday is next week."