The annual Mission Federal ArtWalk dominated the streets of San Diego’s Little Italy two weekends ago. The exposition is known as the largest fine art festival in Southern California. It featured more than 350 artists from California, neighboring states and Mexico — one artist being a San Diego State senior.
“I got to meet people outside of my school and hear what they had to say,” SDSU studio art senior and winner of the ArtWalk’s Business of Art Scholarship Stephanie Wang said. “ArtWalk’s given me exposure. I’m still young and learning so it has opened doors because people want to work with me now.”
According to Managing Director of ArtWalk Sandi Cottrell, the scholarship winner recieves a booth at the event, a page on the ArtWalk website and mentoring about how to transition from being a working student doing student work to selling their art.
“Her work evokes a lot of emotion in the viewer,” Cottrell said of Wang’s paintings.
ArtWalk began 28 years ago when a group of artists came together and created an actual art walk where people went from gallery to gallery starting in Little Italy and ending in East Village. Cottrell said organizers thought bringing it together as a cohesive festival was a way to get people together to celebrate all arts and culture in San Diego and to attract sponsors, which is a necessity in order to put on such a large event.
“The artists pay rather little to be involved,” Cottrell said. “Without the sponsors it will not be possible in any way.”
According to Cottrell, the Mexican consulate invited 28 artists this year, bringing people all the way from Mexico City and Monterrey. Cottrell said at least 10 percent of the featured artists in ArtWalk are Mexican.
A backbone of the event is that ArtWalk supports art education in elementary school through an organization called ArtReach. According to Cottrell, almost 50 artists at the festival and three sponsors give part of their proceeds to ArtReach.
“What ArtReach does is it takes art into elementary schools, which have no visual arts program,” Cottrell said. “A huge part of our mission is to take art back into elementary schools that have lost their funding for arts education.”
This year’s ArtWalk held six stages of entertainment and live music and more than 20 art activities for kids. The art exposed varied from paintings, sculptures, glasswork, photography, music and dance.