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Elite artists showcase contemporary style

SAMANTHA STANDRINGspecial to the daily

Howard Alan Events (HAE), one of the biggest art promoters in the country, hits downtown Frisco with myriad mediums in its contemporary art show this weekend. The fourth Main Street to the Rockies Art Festival will showcase $12 million of varied artwork by artists from all over the United States.”You’ll find all sorts of art from watercolors to oils to abstract,” said AnaBelle Dweck, publicist for the festival. And contemporary art shouldn’t be confused as meaning only abstract; the artists are modern, but in their works “you will find the traditional as well,” she said.Prices will range significantly, giving everyone the opportunity to find what they are looking for. There will be “something for the serious art buyer, as well as the weekend browser who wants to take home a token,” Dweck said. Prices will start from jewelry costing around $20 and go all the way up to metallic statues selling in the thousands.”We’ve cancelled the recession for the weekend,” announced Howard Alan, inviting everyone to spend away until the recession returns at 9 a.m. on Monday. All of the art at the festival is handmade in the United States, and he asks people to come out and support the artists by spending locally. He feels that buying art is a means of supporting the community’s economy, explaining that despite the recession, art has appreciated in value.And the originality of some of the work coming to Frisco makes the art worth all the more. Many artists are experimenting with new ideas. Painter Katherine McNeill is currently collaborating with her daughter on a series she calls “an Explosion of Color.” She is drawing inspiration from shepherds in Colorado in the 1800s who carved art and scripture into trees. Look closely at her work, and you will find she has incorporated “the shepherds’ message” on her trees. McNeill is also using a heavy palette knife to give her oil painting a three-dimensional effect.Others artists are staying at the top of their game simply by demanding perfection. Local photographer Todd Powell said, “if it’s not really stunningly amazing light, I won’t even take the camera out of the bag.” He, too, tries to avoid the norm by seeking out views which aren’t standard and creating mural-size prints from film. He is currently working on a lot of water-based work and “iconic pictures” of the county.The festival will be a top-rate exhibit in a casual setting.The personal contact found at this show offers the chance to really get an insight into the world of art. All of the artists will be available throughout each day to talk about their work and influences. Artists will also take commissions for specially designed work.The show is very interactive. Artists will be demonstrating their skills, some even allowing viewers to participate. McNeill lets people paint on her canvas to try it out. She also believes that it helps her work. “Artists need to be fed,” she often says. “My clients feed my soul, and I give something back to them.”Many of the artists go to clients’ homes to hang the work themselves, Alan said. Powell commented that he has few impulse buys but a lot of people coming back at different shows. He encourages people to take their time on purchases, offering his own advice on aesthetics. He’s proud of the work he has created and says, “I just want to make sure people end up with the right pieces.”He visits potential clients’ houses to discuss where the artwork would go and what size or style might be best. He also takes snapshots of their walls and digitally drops pictures onto the photos so people can imagine the end result. “A lot of times, the way a picture looks in a booth or a gallery looks really different than how it’s going to look in someone’s home,” he said.HAE is bringing all of the artists together for the festival.The events company started in Plantation, Fla., after Alan had been a chiropractor and owned several retail stores but “hated it” all. He discovered the world of public relations and has since rejoiced in being able to give “all the artists the opportunity to take off their suits and ties” and do something that they, like him, are truly passionate about.He now runs 40-45 art festivals a year, not including those organized through their subsidiary, American Craft Endeavors, which brings an extra 40 to the table.Alan said he loves to come to Frisco because it’s a quaint town where “even the kids seem to have some education about art.”McNeill said HAE is “absolutely fabulous” for artists “because they really make an effort to advertise.”Likewise, even though Powell has a gallery on Main Street in Frisco, he finds HAE helps business by extending his reach to other regions of Colorado and even out of state. Many of the artists showcase their work in Florida through HAE. Typically, 20-30 percent of the artists showcased in Frisco live in the region.HAE hosted another successful art festival in Beaver Creek last weekend. According to Alan, some of the same artists will appear at Frisco, but it’s going to be “exciting and new and refreshing.” He added, “it’s not just going to look like Breckenridge or any of the other shows.”Dweck views the show as a great opportunity “for people to see a lot of different art from a lot of different artists, not just local but from all over … in one setting, in one day.”


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