by Laurel Meny
Naples is known for its cultural experiences. With its perfect weather and gorgeous outdoor spaces, the best way to experience it is at one of its many outdoor art shows. And, with a calendar that includes three of the top five outdoor art shows in the country and the area’s first outdoor art show, the Naples Art Association (NAA) easily takes the honor as the best outdoor art show provider.
“Outdoor art shows are important to the Naples Art Association because it supports our mission of increasing and broadening opportunities to experience the visual arts for our residents and artists in Southwest Florida. The City of Naples and the downtown businesses aid in the overall ambiance and support our shows because they uphold Naples’ standing of being the cultural center of Southwest Florida,” said Don DeMichele, NAA outdoor shows manager.
Ranked number one on Sunshine Artist magazine’s list of The 200 Best Shows in the Art and Craft Festival Circuit in the U.S., the 30th annual Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts will take place on March 24 and March 25 in downtown Naples. Thousands of art savvy show goers are drawn to Naples each year to shop over 230 booths from participating artists from all over the country. The setting adds to the allure associated with this end-of-season art show, where artist tents and booths are nestled on 5th Avenue South among businesses, high-end boutiques, prestigious art galleries, and some of the finest restaurants, bistros, and outdoor cafes. Artwork available includes original oils and acrylics on canvas; watercolors; 2D and 3D mixed media; limited edition prints; photography; digital art; sculpture; wood carvings; ceramics; hand-crafted jewelry; leather works; and so much more.
Not far behind that ranking is the 38th annual Naples National Art Show, which was ranked third in the country andwill take place on February 24 and February 25. Known for its scenic location – in spectacular Cambier Park and along 8th Street South in downtown Naples – it draws some of the finest artists from around the country. This is a juried art festival with artists applying in 18 categories including painting, jewelry, watercolor, ceramics, metal, sculpture, and wood. This is the NAA’s only art festival where cash awards are delivered to artists for Best in Show, Best 2D, Best 3D, 10 Awards of Distinction – 5 in 2D and 5 in 3D; and People’s Choice for favorite booth. The local community counts the Naples National among its premiere, must-see events and more than 20,000 residents and visitors flock to this outdoor weekend art festival to enjoy the art, live performances, and the world-class restaurants in downtown Naples.
Festival attendees take full advantage of the opportunity to meet artists from across the country and to learn about their inspiration and techniques. And, last but certainly not least, there is simply no better way to ring in the New Year in Naples than by attending the 22nd annual Naples New Year’s Art ART get out and experience Show, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, January 6 and 7 and will be combined with Art in the Park. The first show of the new year, will see 15,000 to 20,000 residents and visitors viewing and purchasing art from 250 professional artists from over 35 states and four different countries.
“Each year we see 30 to 40 percent new exhibitors which keeps the show fresh and allows it to remain in the top 15 shows across the country. Our high-quality standards and professional and welcoming volunteer staff also make it easy for artists to set up and be successful,” said DeMichele. According to Micki Nelles, a longtime NAA volunteer, “I started volunteering at the Naples Art Association in 1999 when we were spending half the year in Naples. I have continued volunteering for all of these years simply because it is fun. I love being with the variety of people that attend and exhibit at these shows. Being from Chicago, where there are some spectacular art shows, I couldn’t help myself but tell everyone there that they must get to Naples and attend an NAA show. The energy is contagious!”
The Naples Art Association’s Art in the Park juried art show, which has been hosted monthly since 1957, making it the oldest outdoor art show in Naples, proudly connects artists with art shoppers each month from November through April in Naples’ scenic Cambier Park. For art lovers, Art in the Park is a casual, fun-filled venue for meeting local artists and becoming acquainted with their work. For participating NAA artists, Art in the Park not only gives them the opportunity to show and sell their work, it affords them a wonderful platform in which to build rapport with collectors while fostering their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the arts and their own extensive portfolios.
“The patrons who attend NAA shows are sophisticated and successful. They know exactly what they want and have the means to acquire it,” said artist and longtime NAA outdoor art show exhibitor, Edward Loedding. A suggested $5 donation is requested at the entrance of each of these shows with all money raised going toward the NAA’s art education programs. For more information about the NAA’s outdoor art shows, please visit NaplesArt.org/Outdoor-Shows.