Festival of the Masters 2011
Each autumn, Disney hosts Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney. This event showcases the works of over 150 artists and stretches from the Marketplace to the Westside. Festival of the Masters is considered one of the top open-air art shows in the country and features original and limited edition paintings, photographs, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and more. And within each category, a number of styles and techniques are employed to bring you a dizzying array of art. To ensure the quality of the pieces to be showcased, all participants must have won first, second or third place, or received “best in show” in a recognized, juried art showing.
This year marks the 36th Festival of the Masters and is sponsored by Michaels, the arts and crafts store. The hours are as follows:
Friday, November 11, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 13, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Each participant displays their art within a tent -- and row after row of these tents are on hand to dazzle your senses and tempt your pocket book. I snapped a few pictures of the artwork just to give you a sampling of the variety that’s available.
A close observer might notice that the artwork surrounding House of Blues takes on a funky tone. Here, over thirty noted folk artists showcase their work in an appropriate venue. Be sure to check out the Front Porch Bar performances while in the area.
And speaking of performances, Disney has made sure that there are plenty of musicians on hand to keep you entertained as you drift from one exhibit to the next.
One of the highlights of the event is chalk painting. Located in the Marketplace section of Downtown Disney, talented artists spend hours transforming concrete into fine works of art – only to know that it will eventually be washed away by janitorial when the event is over. This year, more than 100 artists will use more than 3,000 square feet of sidewalk as their canvas. Since I was at this event early Friday morning, I don’t have any finished works to show you here, but take my word for it, these talented artists create breathtaking drawings.
Every year, Disney tries to add new elements to Festival of the Masters and this year they are showcasing artists that specialize in Disney themes. Since my house is decorated in “Disney,” this shop was very dangerous for me to visit.
Many of these Disney artists are on site and are happy to speak with you and discuss their art. In addition, they will gladly sign any piece you purchase. I had the opportunity to speak with Brian Rood at the Art of Disney shop and browse some of his work.
A number of booths feature activities for the younger set. One of these is presented by this year’s festival sponsor, Michaels. Here, kids can decorate their own picture frame with doodads and thingamajigs and top them off with a set of mouse ears. And the best thing about this activity, the frames are free.
Another event sponsored by Michaels allows kids to color in panels. Individually, these panels are meaningless, but when added to the mural, a giant picture comes to life. When one mural is completed, another is started.
Lego is sponsoring a similar event. Kids are given a small, flat Lego which has been color coded. The kids then add additional Legos to this starting piece as indicated by the colors. When done, their Lego is added to a giant board to help create a plastic work of art. Michaels and Lego are tricky. These uncompleted murals force you to return later to see what part you played in the creation of art.
Another activity is sponsored by Sammy Duvall, the group that offers waterskiing and parasailing on Bay Lake. At this booth, guests can purchase and decorate a pair of TOMS shoes with a number of decorations. And for every pair of shoes you purchase, Sammy Duvall will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.
Over at Cirque du Solei, face painters are happy to give you a makeover. And outside Disney Quest, artists help you draw some of your favorite Disney characters.
Raglan Road used this year’s Festival of the Masters to unveil a new, commissioned work by famed Irish artist Graham Knuttel. Mr. Knuttel has created works for Sylvester Stallone, Whoopie Goldberg, Colin Farrell, and Robert DeNiro. His latest piece will hang above the stage at Raglan Road. I was on hand for the unveiling. Mr. Knuttel can be seen on the right. If you like this piece, portions of the painting have been recreated on plates and mugs and can be purchase in the Raglan Road gift shop.
I have only mentioned a few of the activities on hand to entertain everyone in the family. There are far too many to talk about in this article. In addition to activities, food and drink booths have been positioned along the walkways, including a station for beer, wine, and champagne.
Festival of the Masters is very popular. I suggest arriving at opening if you want a hassle-free experience. As parking at Downtown Disney can be a nightmare, I usually park in the lot behind Cirque du Solei as spaces are easier to obtain in this area. Then I meander my way across Downtown Disney, enjoying the exhibits. When I reach the far end of the Marketplace, I take the boat back across Village Lake and I’m at my car.
I have to be honest, I’ve been attending Festival of the Masters for twelve years and I’ve never purchased a piece of art from one of these vendors, yet I wouldn’t miss this event. I look at this weekend as a chance to experience some stunning artwork in a festive atmosphere – free of charge. And while I’m there I have lunch at one of the many restaurants, visit some of my favorite Downtown Disney shops, and listen to the live music. Not to mention, enjoy the chalk art which always blows me away.
I know that many of you plan your Disney World vacations around Epcot’s Flower & Garden Show or the Food & Wine Festival. Maybe next year you might want to consider a trip that encompasses the Festival of the Masters. This event is definitely worth your time and you can easily spend the better part of the day enjoying the art, participating in the activities, and eating. Since I live locally, this event is a “must do” on my calendar.
The previous post in this blog was Ghirardelli -- Downtown Disney.
The next post in this blog is Yacht Club Resort - Part One.