By Tao Woolfe
After 50 years of standing behind local artists and their work, the Delray Beach Art League is stepping out to celebrate its own creation.
It will do so in high style, of course, with a four-day art festival — from Feb. 26 to March 1. Exhibits and performances of all kinds, and even a feast, will fill the Delray Center for the Arts with color, music and movement.
Because art can’t be contained, the festivities — street performances by jugglers and dancers, exhibits of artists old and new, contests, kids’ activities, food vendors and portrait artists — will spill out onto the grounds and courtyard of the arts center at 51 N. Swinton Ave.
Outdoor light was crucial for certain Impressionists known as plein air painters. The French term en plein air, or “in the open air” describes an artistic style that continues to this day.
The festival will open with its own plein air competition, Thursday, Feb. 26, during which artists will paint outdoors until 3 p.m. Those works will be on exhibit from 4 to 7 p.m., and will be awarded judges’ prizes totaling $2,000 at a 5 p.m. ceremony.
“This is a big celebration of the league’s 50th anniversary, but it’s also designed to get people to come out and see great art,” says Manny Jomok, a watercolorist and chairman of the 16-member celebration committee. “There will be all kinds of things going on for all ages.”
On Friday, Feb. 27, a big banquet will be held in the art center’s gymnasium. Besides gourmet food, live music and dancing, the event will feature raffles, a silent auction, and guest speakers. Tickets, which cost $40, will be sold to the public on a first-come-first-served basis.
During the day Friday, a portrait art exhibition will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This multimedia exhibit features works of oil, watercolor and acrylic, plus sculpture and photographs.
Saturday and Sunday the work of young artists, competitions, and live music will be showcased from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A few local artists formed the Delray Art League in 1965. It now represents more than 230 members whose juried works can be seen at regular exhibits in Veterans Park, Old School Square and Delray Beach City Hall.
Many of the artists’ works are on display in galleries around the country, says Jomok, who became a noted watercolorist and art teacher after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008. He credits the league with helping him blossom into his new career.
The league donates thousands of dollars in scholarships to art students at Florida Atlantic University, Atlantic High School, Milagro School and the Plumosa School of the Arts Foundation. The league also helps Delray Beach elementary and high schools buy art supplies and equipment.
“A percentage of all our sales goes to our education fund,” Jomok says. “A big part of our mission is to support art and develop art education in the community. The festival is a great way to do that.”
For more information, visit www.delrayartleague.com.