Artist Tom Trahan shows Demone Phelps work from his collection. Photo by Jesse Walker

Artist Tom Trahan shows Demone Phelps work from his collection. Photo by Jesse Walker

Art Media at Cotton South 2D and 3D mixed media; basket; ceramic; drawing; fiber; precious and semi-precious jewelry; metal; acrylic, watercolor and oil painting; pastel; photography; sculpture; wood

By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor

Artists and lovers of art – between 1,000 and 2,000, actually – descended on Madison last Saturday and Sunday for the first-ever Cotton South Fine Arts Festival, held in and around Town Park.

The highlight of the inaugural art festival was the near 70 artists, representing all manner of media, present at the event.

“We were so fortunate to have the talent we had there, some of the best in the country,” Cotton South Festival Director Tim Reilly said. “We saw a lot of beautiful work.”

Striving for community involvement, Reilly expressed being very pleased with the festival’s Home-Stay Program for the visiting artists. Private residents were recruited to house the visiting artists in their homes during the festival, and all of the artists asking to take part in the program were housed.

“We’re hoping to engage the community with the artists,” Reilly said, explaining that the artists not only get free lodging, but the artist and host get a chance to create a friendship. “The artists love that program… That’s a program that was successful in every way.”

Further, as far as community involvement, Reilly praised the “very, very good help from volunteers” and said the “artists raved about the volunteers.”

Granted there’s a lot of feedback and post-festival data still pending to consider, Reilly feels that next year’s Cotton South Festival could be even more of a success. He’s hoping to to “stick with the same format,” he said, and strive for the high quality of art that defined this year’s festival.

And, of course, there will always be a push to increase the number of attendees. This being the first year, that the festival was “marketed pretty broadly” and that it fell on the UGA-LSU football game weekend, “we just took what we could get,” Reilly said.

“We were very pleased with the way the set-up looked. He (Reilly) did a really good job; there were very high-end, quality artists and exhibitors. The crowds were not as big as we hoped for, but this was a first-year festival,” the City of Madison’s Special Projects Coordinator Ann Huff said.

“I think it was good for the community and I think the Madison businesses enjoyed it,” Reilly said.

Click here for more photos of the Cotton South Fine Arts Festival.