Larchmont Arts Festival, September 30

By Rachael Grimm

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Larchmont Arts Festival, which will be held in Constitution Park on Saturday, September 30 from noon to 5:00 pm (rain date October 1). 

The festival began after several Larchmont residents–photographer Palmer Davis, writer Caren Osten Gerszberg, and Nili Asherie, Larchmont Committee of the Arts chair–met to discuss ways to reignite Larchmont’s illustrious tradition of art. They decided that an annual art festival would be the best way to showcase local artists and build a community around art. There would be no jurying process, as is the case with many art festivals; it would be accessible and open to all. 

Davis, Gerszberg, and Asherie formed an Arts Festival Committee whose original members included Larchmont residents Jane Nishimura, Patty Horing, Kristin Osterberg, Laurie Rubin, Becky Salko, Julie Hoylen, Patty Roberts, and Carey Federspiel. The first year was an entirely grass-roots effort: with no budget, committee members used their personal time and talent to publicize the event and attract local artists. The first festival was held at Willow Park, and was small, and casual, with about 15 or so artists and craftspeople showing and selling their work.

Gradually, live music, food vendors, and a children’s art project were added. The event became more visible to the public when it moved to the beautiful Constitution Park. The Village Hall, led by village trustee Peter ‘Bubba’ Fanelli, assisted with logistics and the Department of Public Works stepped in to organize parking and to help artists set up. An award for outstanding work–originally co-sponsored by gallery owner Kenise Barnes and realtor Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s–continues to motivate artists to create their best work for the festival. Today the LAF Artist Award is co-sponsored by Brooke Molinaroli of BAM Art Advisory and Carlos Rodriquez of Palmer Art.

The committee added an annual ‘Featured Artist’ whose work would be advertised in the weeks leading up to the show on the LAF poster. The festival has featured many artists over the years who have gone on to have successful art careers including Tinka Denenberg, Michelle Wenzler, Hilda Demskey, Keven Peterson, Patty Horing, and Kristin Osterberg. 

Today as many as 90 artists from near and far sign up annually for the Larchmont Arts Festival. It has grown tremendously over the years but has stayed true to its original conception as a place “Where Art Comes to Life.”