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‘Who’s who’ of artists join outdoor festival

September 24, 2018

GREENWICH - Weston artist Audrey Klotz spends many a weekend showing her vibrant abstracts at festivals and fairs, but the Bruce Museum Outdoor Arts Festival holds a special place in her heart.

“They’re the coolest artists. It’s really unique art,” said the Greenwich native, who will be a highlight of the museum’s 37th annual showcase next month. “And it’s important for the arts in general. You’re getting original art you couldn’t get anywhere else.”

More than 85 artists from across the country will present their work on the grounds of the Bruce Museum on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7, a juried gathering recognized as one of the top fine arts festivals in the nation.

It’s the highlight of the museum’s jam-packed fall filled with intriguing exhibitions and workshops and even a first-ever Oktoberfest.

Running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the arts festival includes a full spectrum of creativity - from paintings on canvas, board and paper to mixed media, drawing and graphics to digital media, sculpture and photography. All works are available for purchase.

“This show is truly comprised of the who’s who of contemporary fine artists,” said longtime Festival Director Sue Brown Gordon, an artist herself who scouts for new talent at festivals all year. “My travels take me across the country to seek out the very best to bring to Greenwich.”

Anne von Stuelpnagel, the museum’s director of exhibits, believes another aspect of the festival makes it special for browsers and buyers alike. Hailing from as far as Florida, Texas and Oregon, the artists travel with their work to Greenwich.

“The artists have to be there with their work,” she said. “They can speak for their work.”

Klotz can’t wait to share her vision with visitors. A fan of the New York School, including Jackson Pollock, Grace Hartigan, Robert Motherwell and Willem de Koonig, she loves playing with texture, color and form.

“I try to incorporate a little of everybody in there and, ultimately, it comes out an Audrey Klotz,” said the artist, who will join her husband, acclaimed sculptor Drew Klotz, on the Bruce’s grounds next month.

Festivalgoers — about 3,000 are expected — will enjoy food truck delicacies on site and the museum will host a number of children’s art activities and a drawing contest indoors.

The festival runs rain or shine and most exhibitors come ready to brave the elements in sturdy tents.

“They’re like an art gallery in 100 square feet,” von Stuelpnagel said.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, the Bruce will hold its first Oktoberfest celebration, featuring German beer from Paulaner USA and the oompah-and-accordion-laced stylings of Austrian Boys Band.

Paulaner, one of the largest brewers at the world-renowned Oktoberfest in Munich, has been crafting beer in Bavaria since the 1600s. Their offerings at the Bruce should pair well with a light menu of classic German fare from Harlan Haus, a popular beer and würst hall in Bridgeport with sister restaurants Harlan Social in Stamford and Harlan Publick in Norwalk.

Bruce spokesperson Scott Smith said the museum is always looking for ways to welcome visitors to get out and enjoy a little dancing under the stars, weather permitting. Party-goers can also enjoy an after-hours tour of the galleries.

“The goal is to continue to give different groups of people an opportunity to experience the Bruce Museum,” Smith said. “People really enjoy the chance to get out and about.”

Oktoberfest at the Bruce Museum runs 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27. Tickets are $40, $30 for museum members. For tickets, visit brucemuseum.org and click on “Reservations.”

On the heels of the arts festival, the Bruce will host a workshop and lecture with artist/author James Gurney, an inspiration to generations of those who dabble in the science, fantasy and imaginative realism sphere.

On Monday, Oct. 8, the artist will preside over the workshop “Techniques for Science Illustration with James Gurney,” beginning at 6 p.m. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 p.m., he will present the Marianne Smith Memorial Lecture, “How I Paint Dinosaurs: Art, Science and Imagination.”

For more information or to reserve a space at either event, visit www.brucemuseum.org.

Fall visitors can also enjoy the museum’s ongoing exhibitions: “ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection” featuring Claes Oldenburg, Fernand Léger, Berenice Abbott and 25 other artists; “Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957-64”; “A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions”; and “Wild Bees: Photographs by Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman.”

Admission to the Bruce Museum Outdoor Arts Festival is $10, free for Bruce Museum members and children under 5. Admission includes access to the museum galleries.

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