Among the nearly 60 artists displaying work at the sixth annual River Clay Fine Arts Festival in Decatur, Arlaina Marie, a segmentive painter from Brook, Indiana, said she was impressed with public turnout and the quality of work on display Saturday.
The two-day River Clay festival on the grounds of Decatur City Hall on Lee Street will be open today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“I’ve seen wonderful reviews of this event, and I haven’t been disappointed,” she said. “The quality of this show just blows me away. I’m certainly proud to be a part of it. It’s not a typical small-town art show.”
Marie said she attends about 40 shows across a dozen states annually and said River Clay “has had a good crowd all day.”
Marie's segmentive painting involves painting on strips of paper and putting the strips together for the final product.
“Sales haven’t been too bad here,” she said. “Every individual painting I create is for one person. That person may not be here, but they know it when they see it.”
One of the original organizers and a volunteer at this year’s event, Noel King, said the event could draw 5,000 attendees this year.
“The weather has been great. We changed the date from September to October to take some of the heat out of the equation,” he said Saturday. “We’ve had a steady flow of attendees all day. It’s really a great time to start your Christmas gift buying with the many items here. … It’s a juried art show and that helps keep it a quality show.”
The jury evaluates applications from artists and not all make the cut.
Photographer Glenn Wills of Alabaster was busy chatting with the public about his landscape images in “Forgotten Alabama.” His 2019 book, “200 years of Forgotten Alabama,” received plenty of comments and he was seeing brisk sales at $40 a book.
“I’m having an awesome day. Sales have been very good,” he said. “I will likely sell out on Sunday. I’ll be back next year if they’ll have me.”
Huntsville’s Gayle Mantler drove to Decatur for the day to enjoy the art.
“The variety and quality here is excellent,” she said. “I plan on buying some jewelry and probably some original art. I’ll make sure to return next year.”
Austin High graduate Adam Stephenson, who now lives in Atlanta, participated in the festival chalk art show. He won the 2019 show, the last time it was held as the pandemic prevented the event from taking place last year.
“I’m having fun hanging out, talking with people and making some art,” Stephenson said.
Kira Swopes, a seventh grader at Austin Middle School, was proudly showing her mom, Sharon Swopes, her drawing in the students’ tent.
“I’m really impressed with all of the people out today,” said Sharon Swopes. “It’s gorgeous weather and it’s good to see people not worrying about the pandemic and enjoying the sunshine. The artwork of the students and the professionals is so unique.”
Jim and Mary Jennings drove down from Hendersonville, Tennessee, to display and sell some of Jim’s multimedia work. The founder of American Wood Worker magazine said he uses exotic wood and acrylics in his creations.
“I only do two or three shows a year,” he said. “There’s a good crowd here but the items I have here might be a little too high in price. But I certainly don’t regret being here. It’s a nice event. The people, the food, everything here has been great.”
Today’s admission is $5 a person. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult.
Food trucks, children's activities and free demonstrations will be at the event.