WOODSTOCK — Two years in the making, the Shenandoah Valley ArtFest came to town on Saturday afternoon, filling the streets of the county seat with music and art.
The inaugural festival included 38 artists from around the Shenandoah Valley, said co-sponsor Katie Mercer, enhancement coordinator for the Town of Woodstock.
Even before the official 2 p.m. start time, dozens of visitors were already perusing the artists’ tents spread across the front lawn of the Shenandoah County Historic Courthouse to the tunes of oldies music performed by Bill Vaughan, of Woodstock.
Harrisonburg band Stone Rollin’ and Charlottesville band Love Canon also signed up to perform.
The festival was part of a day of unrelated events taking place in and around Woodstock, including Bike Virginia, which attracted cyclists from around Virginia to tour the region this weekend, as well as the Vintage Woodstock festival, which took place downtown on Saturday evening.
Having ArtFest sandwiched between the Bike Virginia events and Vintage Woodstock presented an ideal setting for the first-time event, said co-organizer Jane Beasley, a board member of the Virginia Educational Center for the Creative Arts (VECCA) of Woodstock.
“This just makes it that much more of a festival,” she said.
First Bank, the Town of Woodstock, and the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce also collaborated on the event.
“It’s a really good partnership,” said Town Manager Angela Clem.
Mercer said she hopes this will become an annual festival.
“For a first-year event, [it’s] not bad,” she said.
Participating artists were approved by a jury of three area artists: Holly Huddle, of Woodstock; Kay Witt, of Strasburg, and Trudy Van Dyke, who lives in Washington, D.C.
Artists came from all around the Valley and beyond, and included various painters, sculptors and crafters of recycled items.
Surrealist painter Sally Veach, of Woodstock, said she’s inspired by local scenes in her artwork, which portrays “contemporary or abstract landscapes.”
She has an upcoming show called “Ghosts of a Forgotten Landscape” at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester starting with a wine and cheese reception from 6 to 8 p.m. July 13. Guests should RSVP to the museum at 901 Amherst St. by July 30.
Travis Schuerman lives in Costa Rica, but returned to his home in the Valley to show off his oil paintings depicting various dreams he’s had.
He said he includes poetry in his paintings “as much as I can” and also creates work through the Procreate program on his digital tablet.
Checking out some of the artwork on Saturday was recent Florida transplant Estelle Sanders, who said she walked over to ArtFest from her new house in Woodstock.
“I wanted to see what’s happening,” she said, especially excited to live someplace where people can walk.
Carol Mackay Mertz said she includes blue in much of her meditative art because “blue is the color of healing.”
She’s found that abstract art allows her viewers to become a part of the art by imagining what they want from it.
“It opens them up and it centers them,” she said.
Much of her BabyBlues series features water scenes, which she said offers “an ocean of unconsciousness” both in the water and the sky.
“The sky is also an ocean,” she said.