Artwork at Sausalito festival stirs controversy

August 31, 2012 10:29:54 PM PDT
The 60th edition of the Sausalito Art Festival is this weekend, kicking off with a sold out gala Friday night. This year there's some great work -- and some controversy.

The festival is a prestigious one. Artists want to get in here. Some 274 of them from 37 states will be showing off their works in 14 categories.

Marin artist George Sumner has been exhibiting for 45 years. "It actually has a very focused art audience, not only for paintings but for all of the arts," he said.

It's because the works are judged by peers selected by the artists. "We started asking them at the end of every show to tell us the person they felt in their category represented that category better than anyone else and give us their name," said Paul Anderson, a member of the festival board of directors.

This year's show poster by artist Liz Lyons Friedman is probably the most viewed artwork this year. She carved a wood block for the original print and then colored it with watercolors.

While the best of the pros are here, in the Bay Model there are student works from the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

The artists fare well, and Sausalito benefits from the visitors and proceeds.

"All the proceeds from this festival go back to grants and scholarships. It's really a great economic impact that way," said Ann Dickson, executive director of the festival.

There's an exhibit of the American Icons competition depicting the Golden Gate Bridge, and one piece by Douglas Brett has created controversy. It was temporarily taken off the website because it shows a person jumping off the bridge.

"The piece was a piece that was sensitive to some people," Dickson said. The board decided to add a disclaimer, warning viewers that the image contains graphic content which may be disturbing to some, and kept the piece in the show.

"The image is very powerful. It's very simplistic and I have to tell you it makes you think for a second when you look at something like that. But that's what art does," said Anderson.

About 200,000 pieces of art are on display at the festival and there will also be live entertainment. The festival runs through Monday.


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