The arrival of young artists and new art establishments in Edom, Texas, over the past year has brought an infusion of excitement to the annual Edom Art Festival. The famous East Texas art festival is now celebrating its 47th anniversary and this time there are 20 first-time participants joining the dozens of returning crafts people and artists.
On the weekend of October 12 and 13 the hamlet swells with thousands of visitors who make the regular pilgrimage. On the town’s main thoroughfare visitors find the new Edom Art Emporium with a collective of four artists, plus rotating exhibitions by 30 or so more. Across the street is The Experience, a large building currently housing a restaurant, gallery, shops, and a yoga studio. These entrepreneurs join the Edom pioneer artists jewelers Zeke and Marty and Potters Brown as well as long-time residents Arbor Castle Birdhouses and The Old Firehouse Visual Art Gallery.
All this activity and the annual Edom Art Festival makes even regular visitors notice the enthusiasm that has come to town.
First-time participants in the festival this year include Weatherford-based ceramicist Cathy Crain, photographer Steve Riley, and jeweler Mary Geisler.
The acceptance process is by jury, and the festival is run by artists. It is one of the few in the state that can boast that. It has kept the festival vital and tries to make the experience as rewarding for the participants as possible.
Geisler says she can only make it to two or three shows a year, as she is the curator at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts and has a thriving custom jewelry business. Participating in festivals is stimulating she says, "I love it. It is very exciting to see so many people buying art. Bringing people into a gallery and seeing them leave the gallery with art is good but a festival is like a feeding frenzy. It’s exciting in so many ways."
Multi-dimensional artist Gail Delger also finds the festival atmosphere more conducive to sales. For years she owned a gallery on the square in McKinney and still participates in a large artist co-op there but over the years found that when the art was placed on the sidewalk more people bought. "The sales were out front, not in the gallery," she says. So now that she has more time she is planning on traveling to the art fairs.
Regionalism plays a part of the artist’s success, either because the artists feel more comfortable, or the area attracts buyers who are enthusiastic about their work. A rural setting brings in the people who gravitate to Sandy Shiroma’s paintings on bird feathers. She meets many hunters with whom she barters for feathers. "Hunters and birders like what I do," she says. The feathers speak to her. "They tell you what will look good, their shape and size does not limit me to a rectangular canvas."
Photographer Kimberly Clark, who is new to the art circuit, found that the art fair scrum in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood was not a venue where she felt comfortable. "While it was successful, people were there for other things. It was stressful being in a downtown atmosphere. While I appreciated all the customers I probably won’t go back," she says.
Clark spoke to a mentor who lives in the Hill Country and he suggested she look into Edom, "He thought the area might appeal to me. I went looking and found it."
One thing they all seem to enjoy is watching visitors respond to their work. "It’s immediate feedback," Clark says. "You can’t get that anywhere else. It’s feeding why I do this. Getting immediate connection is really fulfilling."
Go to www.visitedom.com to learn more about Edom and the artists attending the art festival.