This semi-annual celebration of arts and artists (October 5-6) features food, a creation station for children to create their own masterpieces, great music and, of course, amazing artists who come from across Texas to exhibit their work. As the free festival turns 50, we talked to a few of those artists about their passions, this festival, and why it’s worth the trip every year.
Cottonwood veteran and Sugar Land, TX resident Denise Greenwood Loveless grew up on the north shore of New Orleans, often lost in a book or drawing. Her journey to become the acclaimed mixed media artist she is today took many twists and turns: after a fire destroyed her existing body of work, Greenwood Loveless worked for a pediatric dentist for 10 years, then, as she puts it, “snuck in the back door of art again” by taking up metalworking. A fateful trip to a music video set made her realize she could be a set designer, but she did not discover her true passion in life until much later.
“The moment I put my hands in clay, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” she says. “I can still feel the clay.”
Over a decade later, she now works seven days a week in the clay studio, creating characters that are silly, absurd, beautiful and human. She has art in Rome and Bucharest, but her trek to Cottonwood Art Festival remains one of her principal points of pride.
“These shows balance out the solitude of being in the studio,” she says. “I like to connect with people through my work, and there’s no better place for that than Cottonwood.”
Dallas’ Erin Curry calls Cottonwood Art Festival her “home show.” The 50th anniversary show will mark her tenth time exhibiting her drawings for visitors and her fellow Dallas denizens, and she still cites the festival as one of her favorites.
“Cottonwood is one of the shows I tell other artists around the country about,” she says. “It’s very well-juried, and the community is very tight.”
Curry’s booth neighbor her first year at Cottonwood was none other than Denise Greenwood Loveless, who showed her firsthand how hospitable and friendly the Cottonwood community can be.
Like Greenwood Loveless, Curry’s path to her art career took many turns. After a college career that included four years of volleyball and a Biology major, Curry took up drawing as an act of catharsis. Now her skeletal drawings are a hit in Dallas and far beyond.
“I started small and gradual, and just kept creating and learning,” she says. “I always thought I’d be doing something related to biology, but I never thought it’d be skeletal drawings!”
McCasland makes the kind of art that makes you say, “How did he do that?” Based in McKinney, the 2D mixed media specialist recently began posting photos and videos of his process on Instagram as yet another way to connect with lovers of his work. In one such post, McCasland mixes photos, fabric, oil, wax and paint to create a marvelous mixed media mishmash. But according to McCasland, the best part of the process has nothing to do with a canvas: it’s his kids.
The home studio allows McCasland to create in the company of his children, with their “oohs”, “aaahs” and questions about dinner serving as his chorus. Showing his work to the people surrounding him will always be special for McCasland—and that is yet another perk of exhibiting at Cottonwood. The community of Cottonwood allows artists to reach new audiences, and audiences to enjoy their work alongside their loved ones.