With 65 exhibitor booths, three demonstration booths, live music, a children’s art and crafts tent and a convoy of food trucks aptly named the Food Truck Circus, the Las Artistas Art and Fine Crafts Show is sure to be any art enthusiast’s watercolored dream.
“We have nationally known artists who are showing everything from exquisite jewelry, incredible paintings, clothing, glass, ceramics,” said Rick Elkin, show chair.
Taking place at the First Presbyterian Church event center Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, the art and fine crafts show will exhibit the work of 90 artists.
“We have artists coming from New Mexico, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona,” said Pamela Sullivan, marketing and development consultant for Las Artistas.
New to the show this year is a 100-foot-by-60-foot tent with electricity to bring artists in from the cold and off the lawn. Also new is a group of demonstration booths where attendees can observe metal forging, woodworking and the making of other art forms.
The show came from humble beginnings 45 years ago, Elkin said.
“It’s evolved quite a bit over the years,” he said. “It started out as an art sale that a group of ladies, who were painters primarily, had in their garage. They invited people to come and people came. That’s how it started and over the years it grew into a member-based organization. “
El Paso artists and couple Aleksander and Lyuba Titovets, natives of St. Petersburg, Russia, have been participating in the show for 20 years.
“We came to this country in 1992 and then I think we started showing [in the Las Artistas Art and Fine Crafts Show] from the year ’93 or ’94,” Lyuba said.
Lyuba, a realist who works with oil, acrylics and watercolor, and Aleksander, an impressionist oil painter known for his landscapes and portraiture, are happy to be a part of an event that encourages the tradition of handcrafting art, she said.
“Handcrafted art becomes more unique and more rare because artists really cannot support [themselves] just producing something by hand,” Lyuba said. “It’s a very special thing that somewhere it still exists, and it exists this way.”
Since the show’s start nearly half a century ago, it has become, according to Elkin, the highest quality, most strictly-juried art show in the region.
“The standard criteria is that the work has to be more than just the fundamental transformation of raw materials,” Elkin said, adding that many artists do not meet the criteria for the show. “[A piece] has to show integrity of workmanship. It has to show personal vision. Anything that is made from a kit, anything that is commercially produced, cannot be juried into the show,” he said.
Hundreds of artists apply each year, but only about 90 artists are selected to participate in the show, he said.
This year’s show is made possible by a $7,000 grant from El Paso’s Museum and Cultural Affairs department, and support from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the El Paso Times, The Art Avenue, El Paso Scene, Zig Zag Tag and the Ruhmann Law Firm, as well as through fundraising.
After all expenses are met, Las Artistas donates the money earned from the show, which can range from $1,000 to $6,000 depending on how many people attend, to local art programs, Elkin said.
Elkin said he hopes as many as 5,000 guests attend this weekend’s show.
“The money that we make goes to fund art-based educational programs throughout El Paso,” he said. “We do educational art outreach with children. We provide funding and scholarship money to UTEP students in both the metals program and the ceramics program.”
The Las Artistas Art & Fine Crafts Show
First Presbyterian Church Event Center,
1340 Murchison Dr.
Saturday, Nov. 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Entrance $5, free for ages 18 and under