(Aug. 30, 2019) The second annual ArtX, held last Saturday and Sunday at Northside Park on 125th Street, saw double the attendance of the inaugural event, which was credited to mild temperatures and months of marketing.
ArtX, short for “Artistic Expression,” replaced the former Arts Alive, which was retired after 17 years. The new art festival was designed in part by the Ocean City Special Events Department and Rina Thaler, executive director of the Art League of Ocean City on 94th Street.
“I think the event will grow each year and I think it’s something very unique,” Thaler said. “There’s nothing in the lineup like this in Ocean City where people can experience art on all levels, both performing and visual arts while creating art at the same time and there was something there for every age. It really hit all the marks.
“I want to commend the special events team and the Art League staff who worked so hard since last year to put this all together,” she continued. “I also want to send a special shout out to Frank Miller and particularly the Art League Gallery Manager Katie Brown and Debbie Dean-Colley, our volunteer coordinator, because it took a lot of volunteers to pull this event off.”
The two-day event featured music, films, food and art, as well as workshops and children’s activities to broaden the experience for guests of all ages. Other activities included a speed painting competition, chalk drawings, yoga, a tie-dye T-shirts workshop and pottery demonstrations.
“My biggest question is, did we deliver to meet the expectations that we created, and my hope is that we did,” Ocean City Special Events Director Frank Miller said. “We had some great activities on site and it was really fun to watch not only the kids, but some of the young adults and adults working on those activities and creating their own ideas and designs. That’s really what makes ArtX ... ArtX, that opportunity for artistic expression and just being part of it and interacting with the elements that are there.”
There were even awards presented to vendors. The Best in Show award went to Dagsboro resident Daman Pla for his painting “Semblance”. There were also Judge’s Choice for Mixed Media, Photography, Sculpture and Jewelry.
Sandra Webberking from Springfield, Pennsylvania, received an award for her sculpture designs. Other artists received awards as well, ranging from medals and cash prizes.
“I thought it was great ... they really brought in the people this year,” Webberking said. “I think their advertising was stronger, [however] I felt like there wasn’t much of a social media presence when I looked for it to promote on my own page, but when I got there, there was way more people than last year. I discovered they were advertising on TV, radio and billboards, so they did a really good job.
“Otherwise, it was run beautifully. You can tell they care about people,” she continued. “But if they had a stronger social media presence, they could rock that show.”
Also receiving awards were: George Zah, Baltimore (photography); Stacey Doney and Travis Schafer, Laurel, Delaware (mixed media); Carlos Zepeda, Edgewater, Maryland (mixed media); David Janni, Chance, Maryland (sculpture) and Dee Shannon Dobson, Ocean City (jewelry).
The event drew over 9,000 people to the park, according to Miller, more than double from the inaugural year.
“We definitely did more advertising, which I believe helps, and of course, we had beautiful weather for ArtX,” Miller said. “So those two things, in addition to hopefully the lineup and everything that we had things to do with music and vendors, drove the crowds. We’re happy with the results that we saw just this past weekend.”
Some artists who participated this year returned from the original Arts Alive event from two years ago, and have compared the former show to the new one.
“The Town of Ocean City puts on a beautifully run show and I think it’s very masterfully done, [but] I would like to see more artists,” Michelle Krempa of Salisbury said. “I thought they would have had a higher selection in their artists being that it was a fine art show, so I was a little disappointed in that, because last year there were better quality artists there.”
Over 600 people visited the park Saturday evening to watch the funky jazz group Ripe perform at the end of the first day. After ArtX on Sunday, guests enjoyed Sundaes in the Park while listening to Jaded Love (an American Rock tribute band).
“It really was a phenomenal concert,” Miller said. “We had some of our locals there. We also had millennials there, and we also had some die-hard Ripe fans too. It was just cool to see that everybody who came to the event really enjoyed the music.”
A film festival took place inside the recreation center, showcasing films based in Ocean City. The films will be available for viewing once again during the Ocean City Film Festival next year.
Participants could experience various artistic talents from 55 vendors spread throughout the park. Wares ranged from paintings, sculptures, woodwork, jewelry, photography and clothing.
While the temperature was pleasant during the weekend, many artists had to combat the strong winds, which affects some of their sales.
“We had a lot of trouble with the wind this year,” Kit Hanson of Ocean Pines said. “We made less money than we did last year and we attribute it to the wind. We sell stained glass wind chimes so we have glass and crystals in our booth and the wind was so strong that we had to close the curtains of our booth on Sunday and we feel that affected our sales.
“[Despite that,] everything went very well,” she continued. “The staff did everything possible at Parks and Recreation to make the vendors feel comfortable and we really appreciate their efforts throughout the year. I also thought it was really nice the way the Art League reached out to different age groups to get them to participate in various activities. There was something for just about everybody there.”
For more information about next year’s event, visit oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/special-events/artx/ or ococean.com or call 410-250-0125.