Beaux Arts goes digital amid Covid-19 pandemic

Artist booths at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art 2018. Photo credit: Facebook, University of Miami

Beaux Arts charity, an organization dedicated to supporting the Lowe Art Museum and bringing art to the community, has gone digital due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All programming has been moved online, including their coveted Beaux Arts Festival of Art, now in its 70th year.

The festival— traditionally held on the University of Miami campus— will now be held online via the Beaux Arts website from Jan. 16-17, 2021, in an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Not only are things changing for festival-goers, they are changing for the artists, too.

Ordinarily, around 100 artists fill out applications and pay a booth fee in hopes of participating. Finalists are then brought to the university’s campus and selected by a juried committee made up of art professionals. Because of the financial impacts of the pandemic, Beaux Arts made the decision to wave the booth fee this year and move the jury process online.

“We know Covid-19 has been very tough for artists,” said Wendy Levitz, co-president of Beaux Arts. “We believe we can provide a service to artists that is still promoting their art while not having to ask them to pay anything additional towards booth fees.”

Artists like Ana Hefco, a local Miami artist who paints ocean scenes using resin on wood, are still eager to participate.

“As sad as I am about not having the chance to participate at the in-person Beaux— which, by the way, has been by far the best and most amazing art show for me— I am very glad to hear about the online version. If I am accepted, I will be more than proud and happy to participate,” she said.

Categories of art include ceramics, watercolor, jewelry, graphics, drawings and oil paintings. Artists from all around the country apply to the festival in hopes of winning some of the $7,000 in prize money.

Artist booths at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art 2018.
Artist booths at the Beaux Arts Festival of Art 2018. Photo credit: Facebook, University of Miami

Exhibition is by invitation only and is limited to artists whose work is of the highest quality. Ninety percent of the artist spaces are selected through the jurying process, and the remaining 10 percent goes to the previous year’s winners.

The original jury consists of a panel of local art experts including museum curators, art professors, gallery owners and local artists. But, at the show, winners are decided by a joint, two-judge decision.

The event usually coincides with a student artist showcase at the Lowe Art Museum. But, with the ambiguous nature of the virus, this in-person event is still to be decided.

The hardworking women of Beaux Arts usually kick off the oldest juried art festival in South Florida with the Bare Bones Ball, an informal costume party to kick off the Friday night before the festival begins. This year, the event will be replaced with a digital Sip and Sketch, and members of the community will be invited to join via Zoom.

“The Skip and Sketch will be a virtual celebration of our sisterhood and friendships with the organization. We will learn about wine in the event and the art process by rekindling the flame inside ourselves as our own artist,” said Levitz.

With a dedication to bringing art awareness and education to the community, Beaux Arts moved their “Hands On” program to the virtual world as well. The Hands On program, started in 1987, brings students from Title One elementary schools to the Lowe Art Museum to make art.

Last year, over 700 students were brought through free busses, provided by Beaux Arts, to the children’s pavilion of the Lowe Art Museum. Here, young students were provided an education in the arts through classes. This year, art classes will be done online. Teaching will be live via zoom, and art kits will be sent to the schools and families of students.

Beaux Arts was founded in 1952 by a small group of women and has grown to an organization of over 100 active members and 300 associates. The primary mission of the organization is to “bring arts to the community through its programming.”

Having given over 6 million dollars to the Lowe Art Museum, Beaux Arts is truly committed to the community.

“We work as a team, and we all have one common purpose,” said Michele Reese Granger, co-president alongside Levitz. “We have a free festival where people can come and enjoy art and see amazing artists from all across the country. We take the barrier away by it being free.”

Even though Covid-19 has taken Beaux Arts into a new virtual reality, the organization is still committed to its mission.

“Covid has wreaked havoc on us, but we are savvy, and we can adjust very easily and still make lemonade out of lemons,” Levitz said.

For more information on this year’s festival, click here. For a look at festivals of year’s past, via The Miami Hurricane, click here.