Alexandria, VA – Art on the Avenue, the region’s top multicultural arts festival, will return to an in-person festival for its 26th year. The event takes place Saturday, October 2, from 10 am to 6 pm in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria.
“This year’s Art on the Avenue is the most important in our festival’s history,” said Art on the Avenue founder Pat Miller. “The cancellation of art shows throughout the pandemic has drastically affected all artists. We are thrilled to once again connect the incredible Del Ray community with the region’s top creators.” The juried festival includes paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry, glass art, fiber, mixed media, and more.
Held each fall on Mount Vernon Avenue between Hume and Bellefonte Avenues, Art on the Avenue strives to reflect the diversity of the Del Ray community through the artists and their work. The event, voted by Virginia Living readers as one of the top arts events in Northern Virginia, is volunteer-run, with support from the local business community.
With over 350 artists, artisans, and craftspeople participating, the multicultural arts festival has something for everyone, every gift occasion, and every budget. Here are our Z Picks for can’t-miss artists:
Five years ago, US Army Military Police veteran and criminology professor David Champion saw a chainsaw carver at a county fair and found his new medium. “After a couple of early, ugly attempts, I was hooked,” said Champion. “I am inspired by nature, mythology, music, and other art. I want even simple things like my pumpkins to have movement, character, and vitality.” Citing “deep respect for the trees and the woods that provide my materials,” Champion only carves from deadfall trees or from trees taken down because they threatened someone’s home. He will feature pumpkins, wildlife, holiday decor, and flat relief pieces on milled hardwood planks. (Instagram.com/Champsaw_Art)
CMS Supply Co.
Cady Sinks never gave up her childhood dream of being Robin Hood. By day, she is an insurance agent for architects and engineers. Two years ago, she started making environmentally friendly candles, soaps, lotions, and bath bombs and started a business that gives back to local charities. “When I was a little, I wanted to be Robin Hood. I don’t live in the woods, but our family business gives generously to those in need,” said Sinks. “Knowing that I make products that people enjoy and that do some good in the world is exciting and keeps me going.” (cmssupplyco.com)
Adam Godet makes his Art on the Avenue debut this year, showcasing an array of cutting boards, coasters, wine displays, and small tables. “I grew up in rural central NY surrounded by a DIY ethos. I’ve been building things my whole life,” said Godet, who recently left his federal government job to pursue woodworking full time. “I got serious about making fine furniture in 2009 and with the scraps from those projects, started forming cutting boards and coasters. Eventually, those smaller pieces grew popular. I refined them and they have become a mainstay of my business.” (godetfurniture.com)
For fun, colorful, food-themed items, perfect for housewarming gifts, hostess gifts, or the holidays, look no farther than The Neighborgoods. They feature dish towel sets packaged and ready-to-gift, tote bags, baby onesies, aprons, greeting cards, magnets, pins, and stickers. “I love creating products that make you smile and are useful day-to-day. I also love finding that perfect gift for friends and family, and I’m so happy to bring gifting joy to my customers,” said Jodi Kostelnik. “I am inspired by the beauty of food that brings people together, and of course a witty pun that makes you laugh.” (theneighborgoods.com)
A Del Ray resident for over 20 years, cognitive behavioral therapist Elisa Nebolsine is a long-time Art on the Avenue volunteer, often helping her artist father in his booth. This year, she’ll make her festival debut as an artist, showcasing paintings, photography, and papier-mache. “I find if I look for inspiration, it’s right there,” said Nebolsine. “When you’re thinking about what you want to create, you suddenly start noticing the beauty of the flower garden in your neighbor’s yard, the color of the water in the swimming pool, and realize there’s beauty and inspiration all around you.” (elisanebolsine.com)
Thinking outside the box is not just a lesson that award-winning children’s author/illustrator Joe Jamaldinian tries to teach through his main character, Penguin Bob. It’s also a personal mantra for Jamaldinian, who makes time for his art while working as an IT and software security specialist. “My children’s books have turned into a passion project to teach kids to pursue their passions in life. Or, as I like to say, to follow your bliss and think outside the box,” said Jamaldinian. Jamaldinian donates a book for every book purchased and partners with organizations serving families and children in need. In addition to his Penguin Bob books, Jamaldinian offers limited-edition prints from the books and original children’s artwork and illustrations. (penguinbob.com)
Alexandra Schmeling Fine Art
With COVID-19 travel restrictions, photographer Alexandra Schmeling traded her camera for watercolors and a paintbrush. “I used my photos from trips abroad to paint from and created my first collection of prints, the France Collection,” said Schmeling. “It was like traveling through my art while stuck in my apartment. I still use my photography background because I use only my photos to paint from.” During her Art on the Avenue debut, she’ll feature paintings and prints from D.C., France, and elsewhere. She’ll take orders for custom pet and house portraits too. During quarantine, her pet portraits were so in demand that they raised over $10,000 for local animal shelters from May through September 2020 alone. (alexandraschmeling.com)
Barbara Shenefield Art + Design
Barbara Shenefield combines her background as a graphic designer, illustrator, and painter to create gorgeous posters highlighting different cities, neighborhoods, and landmarks (including Old Town and Del Ray!) with a vintage vibe. “My inspiration comes from the art of the past, including commercial art of the last century; specifically, travel posters,” said Shenefield. This marks her third Art on the Avenue and possibly her last as a visiting artist from Charlottesville. “My whole family pitched in to help at my booth, and we all enjoyed the experience and the area so much we decided to move to Del Ray!” she said. (shenefielddesign.com)
Looking for the perfect gift for dog lovers? Don’t miss the adorable felted dogs by Tracy Shue. “A lifelong dog lover, I create small versions of our furry friends by wrapping wool around a wire frame and securing it with a barbed needle. Layers build shape until the final layers of color are added,” said Shue. “It’s a long process, but the end result is a treasure serving as a reminder of a dog’s infinite unconditional love!” Walking Olive donates a portion of its revenue to organizations doing good work for animals at the end of the year. (Walkingolive.com)
Art on the Avenue takes place Saturday, October 2, from 10 am to 6 pm in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. Learn more at artontheavenue.org.