Art blooms through Williamsburg Spring Arts

The third annual Williamsburg Spring Arts commences this Friday, kicking off a season of diverse artistic expression throughout the Historic Triangle.

"This is our attempt to showcase for the community," Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance president Karen Riordan said. "There is a lot to do here."

The event started in 2015 as a way to show off Williamsburg as more than a summertime tourist destination, when Busch Gardens and lengthy summer vacations draw crowds.

Williamsburg Falls Arts already existed, so a springtime counterpart was a natural extension.

"The quality of the talent they're bringing in is phenomenal," alliance senior vice president of tourism Bob Harris said.

Riordan said the event helps area businesses and non-profits promote their products and ideas. It also includes activities in neighboring localities such as James City and York counties.

The largest attraction under the event's umbrella is the Muscarelle Museum's ongoing Boticelli exhibit that runs through April 5.

"It's so unique," Riordan said. "This is really the only place in this part of the country where you can see it."

Art on the Square is another major allure. The Junior Women's Club of Williamsburg hosts the event, now in its 54th year, in which a jury critiques submissions from locals across a plethora of media.

Riordan said the spring arts audience tends to comprise more adults, including couples and seniors, than the particularly kid-friendly summer season.

But with over 50 events planned and more being added regularly, Williamsburg Spring Arts aims to offer experiences for every palate.

Different crowds and atmospheres

"It's really popular statewide," Riordan said. She also lauded the event as an opportunity to experience Williamsburg while avoiding the humid summer air. "It's a really comfortable time of year."

The Williamsburg Spring Arts event is meant to appeal to both locals and visitors. Williamsburg's location is relatively near bigger metropolitan areas like Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Raleigh-Durham. Riordan and Harris hope the events will attract tourists during a traditionally slower period of the year.

"People always want a good reason to come visit Williamsburg," Harris said.

Harris proposed that those old enough to partake might pair a spring art outing with Williamsburg's tasting trail, a tour of Williamsburg's wineries and breweries. All are efforts to make the area a more diverse tourist attraction.

"You don't have to be an older couple to appreciate art," Harris said. "There's something really there for everyone."

He said there is more to see than the creative works on display. The colonial setting and atmosphere are themselves works of art.

"It really is the natural beauty that brings people in," he said.

Guests can also interact with artists or become the artists. One example is New Town's Chalk Art Festival, where families can enjoy the sights free of charge or drop a few dollars to buy a square of sidewalk and let their creativity flow.

The organizers are striving to be LGBT-friendly, as well. This encompasses individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

"We want all people to know that they're welcome to all of our events," Harris said. "Williamsburg is a very diverse and thriving community."

This diversity of ideas can manifest in the art on display.

"I think the events are getting a little more sophistication," he said. "It's a big asset for us here in Williamsburg."

"I don't think people realize that those opportunities are here," Harris said, citing such prospects as a major perk of his job.

This year's Williamsburg Spring Arts event launches March 17 and is scheduled to run through Memorial Day. Harris encouraged those interested in attending to check their website for updated info throughout the spring.

The list of events will continue to grow and evolve. Local artists and exhibitors are encouraged to submit their own ideas.

"The community can help it grow," Harris said, excited to see what the future might hold for the concept. "I think it's going to be cool to see where we are with arts in 20 years."

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-390-3029.

Event highlights

•Boticelli and the Search for the Divines: One of only two places in the world to see this exhibit featuring paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist. Now through April 5 at the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

•The Annual New Town Chalk Art Festival: Professional chalk artist Holland Winslow will lead this event for all ages and skill levels, featuring cash prizes. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 22, at New Town Williamsburg.

•Historic Garden Week in Virginia's 85th Annual Homes and Gardens Tour of Williamsburg: Visitors can see nine private homes and their gardens on display. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 25, at Colonial Williamsburg and College Terrace.

•4th Annual Blues, Brews & BBQ: Micro brews, BBQ and top blues bands mix. 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., May 6, at Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown.

•Art at the River: Over 100 juried artists, live music and food vendors will be featured. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 7, at Riverwalk Landing.

•Fireworks Finale: Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra presents music by Falla, Korngold and Tchaikovsky.8 p.m., May 20, at William & Mary's Phi Beta Kappa Hall.

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