Travel Guide: An Artist's Perspective on MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival

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Fort Worth artist Gregory Story travels up to 20,000 miles a year to show at major art festivals from coast to coast, but there will be no place like home when MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival (MAIN ST.) opens and draws a crowd to the city that boasts some of the world's most celebrated art collections and museums.

Research the show ahead of time

He's been everywhere, man. Artist Gregory Story travels more than 18 weeks a year, logging up to 20,000 miles to show at major art festivals from coast to coast, but there will be no place like home April 8-11, 2010.

That's when Story's hometown show, MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival (MAIN ST.), opens for its 25th year and spreads a mile-long public gallery of fine art and entertainment across the heart of a city that's home to some of the world's most celebrated art collections.

MAIN ST., one of the nation's top fine arts fairs, combines with the city's museum district to lure artists, art and music lovers and collectors who pack downtown Fort Worth each year with crowds numbering in six figures. An estimated $4 million in art is bought and sold at the show, and Story has been a part of it for 10 years as an exhibitor, volunteer, juror and member of its Artists Advisory Committee.

He's the go-to guy for tips on what the traveling art lover can see and do when MAIN ST. takes the town, whether the question is how to get the most from a major art show, where to mix with artists after hours or which is his favorite museum in a city boasting collections like those of the Kimbell Art Museum and Amon Carter Museum. Take these tips from Story when bound for MAIN ST. in pursuit of fine art and fun.

Know your show. Homework pays. "Research the show ahead of time," Story recommends. Start online. "Most shows have a decent website; better shows have a good website." Follow links to artists' individual sites, and do some armchair research before you hit the street.

Pack with care. Story packs for heat and cold, rain or shine, regardless of the forecast. "Festivals are outdoor events, and I pack for all weather, no matter what the time the year because I've been surprised," he said. Don't forget your walking shoes: at MAIN ST., a guest will walk at least two miles to see all of the more than 200 exhibiting artists' booths.

If you must have it, buy now. "Visit your top 10 artists before you buy, but if you see something you love, don't wait, assuming it will be there when you return," Story said. "It won't be."

Respect the value of an artist's time and talent. "Don't haggle over one piece," Story said. "If you're buying multiples, then you can talk about price."

Ship, don't schlep. "Don't be afraid to ask the artist to ship your purchase, and ask if you need help installing the piece," Story suggests.

Eat, drink and socialize. Festival guests can eat on the street or follow Story and fellow artists to restaurants and watering holes in and around Sundance Square and the festival's downtown home. Ask artists where they hang out after hours. "We wouldn't be in this business if we weren't social animals. Look us up," he said. Chances are they'll be close by. Look for Story on the patio at Mi Cocina, where diners have a ring-side seat for the festival, or Mercury Chop House, among downtown eateries.

See and do. Story tells friends to extend their stay at least a day to take in Fort Worth's museums and galleries. William Campbell Contemporary Art is his pick among local galleries, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth his favorite among the anchors of the city's verdant museum district. There collections of the Modern, Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum and Fort Worth Museum of Science and History place 3,000 years of art and science on exhibit less than three miles from downtown hotels and within walking distance of each other.

Sally J. Bright, National Association of Independent Artists Board of Directors chair, leads an association of artists like Story who travel so frequently, the NAIA website includes a members-only section of travel tips for artists on the go.

The festival circuit winds from coast to coast, from Northern California's wine country through the painted deserts of the Southwest to the heart of Texas. The circuit then leads travelers and artists east to Gulf Coast destinations like New Orleans and Florida and ultimately up the Atlantic seaboard.

Many who travel it know MAIN ST. as one of the nation's top festivals, but Bright said the buzz on Fort Worth's show among artists is that "it is just plain fun to do."

More than 2,500 downtown hotel rooms that lodge travelers within walking distance and a safe as well as booming downtown business and entertainment district give MAIN ST. an edge among shows, Bright said.

"You could spend four days downtown and see different parts of the show each day, or visit galleries, stores or Bass Hall, and never have to drive or get a taxi," she said.

The festival is among the most honored shows in its class. It is ranked among the top fine arts fairs nationwide by Art Fair SourceBook, the bible of the art show world, and was chosen one of the American Bus Association's Top 100 Events in North America for group travel in 2010.

MAIN ST. packs downtown Fort Worth each spring with a celebration of fine arts and crafts, music, film and food a mile long. More than 200 juried artists and fine crafts exhibitors line brick-paved Main Street, joined by musicians and dancers on three stages. Performance artists and food and drink vendors complete the scene.

2010 Grammy nominee Jonny Lang, Los Lonely Boys, jazz man Kirk Whalum, and Poi dog pondering headline the 2010 Music on MAIN schedule, which will rock three festival stages with more than 100 live performances.

Festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, April 8; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 9-10; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 11, 2010. Admission is free to the public.

MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival is presented by Coors Light and produced by Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc.

For more information, visit MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival online or go to the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau.


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Diane Wolfe
Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc.
(817) 577-1779
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