Bethesda Row Arts Festival returns this weekend

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Bethesda Row Arts Festival (Part 1)

Are your apartment walls looking a little bare? Need some artwork to spruce up the place? Or do you just want to have a good time walking around a festival on a fall afternoon?

You can accomplish all of those things at the 24th annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival, which returns from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“We take over four streets in Bethesda Row and 165 artists, who are juried in for their quality of work, set up tents,” co-director Jon Gann told WTOP. “You can walk around all day and peruse some gorgeous artwork. It’s all for sale in almost any medium you can imagine: jewelry, woodwork, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, wearable art — you name it.”

Roughly 45% of the artists are new this year, which Gann calls “very exciting,” and about 30 of the artists are local, including woodwork artist Davrill Nash, of Laurel, Maryland; painter Jack Brumbaugh, of Paeonian Springs, Virginia; glasswork artist Jennifer Moffit, of Kensington, Maryland; wire-sculpture artist G.M. Webb, of Baltimore; and decorative fabric artist Jennifer McBrien, of Baltimore.

“It’s a way for artists to show their work directly to people who appreciate them: collectors,” Gann said. “There’s no gallery; there’s no middlemen. They’re just showing their art, what they do and what they love to the public, and people buy it up. We are told from artists year after year that this is the show that makes or breaks their entire year. They sell so much.”

Prices can be as low as $20 to $30, but most items cost between $100 and $500. There are also some huge sculptures and paintings that sell for $25,000. “Last year we had a woodworker sell two massive live edge tables that were about $15,000 apiece,” Gann said.

Local retailers will be offering discounts, while restaurants are presenting various menu specials.

“It’s just a great way to activate the street in a different way,” Gann said. “Woodmont Avenue has been closed for two years as a ‘streetery,’ and now it’s back open to traffic, so it’s nice to close it back down again to get that pedestrian feel.”

As for shoppers, it’s a great way to spend a fall afternoon. “It’s a free event; it’s family-friendly; it’s outdoors so it’s COVID-friendly; it’s a perfect walking date; the weather, we are hoping, is going to be gorgeous.”

Here’s a map of the festival:

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Bethesda Row Arts Festival (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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