With the Board’s backing and Marchese’s expertise, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival looks to reclaim its status as the #1 fine arts festival in the country
OCTOBER 2022 – For the second year in a row, Artistic Director Camille Marchese will be overseeing all artist endeavors at the Annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival. A South Florida native, Marchese is back in her hometown of Miami after spending 23 years near Orlando as an entrepreneur and volunteer director of the Winter Park Arts Festival.
Now, with her heart and mind keenly focused on the beloved art show presented here every President’s Day weekend since 1963, her objective is clear: making the Coconut Grove Art Festival the number one art show in the country.
“Not so long ago, we were number one,” says Marchese. “My goal, and that of the Arts Festival’s Board of Directors, is to do everything we can to get us back on top.”
To achieve this, Marchese – with the blessing of President Monty Trainer and the Board – has revamped how exhibitors are selected by implementing a more discerning and competitive process. Judges from all over the country, from Oregon to New Hampshire, evaluate the art through a blind jury system.
Camille Marchese, Arts Director for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, served for 23 years with the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival near Orlando.
The Best of the Best
“Other international shows may be more renowned, but those artists typically pay to be there,” explains Marchese. “Our show is a highly curated fine arts festival that selects the best of the best works within each category.”
Identifying and cultivating relationships with the preeminent artists in the country, collectors, and curators are key aspects of the Marchese’s role. It is one for which she has long prepared, having been part of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival for 23 years and serving on all the organization’s various committees.
“I knew that if the opportunity to lead the Grove Arts Festival was ever presented to me, I wanted to be ready,” Marchese explained. “I learned everything there is to know about running a successful show in preparation for this moment.”
An Early Passion
Before joining the Orlando-area festival and running her own small business, Marchese worked in advertising and marketing. But her passion for art shows started at the age of seven when her mother took her to a show and let her buy her first piece of art.
Not an artist herself, although she did take art classes at her alma mater Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., Marchese is considered by her colleagues more of an “art doula.”
“Yes, I’ve actually been called that, an art doula, or midwife,” she said with a chuckle. “I can accept that. I don’t actually create the art, but I’m here to help artists bring their art to fruition through the festival.”
Coconut Grove Arts Festival’s Camille Marchese stays busy cultivating relationships with preeminent artists, collectors, and curators nationwide
Drawing Serious Artists
Now, two years since Trainer recruited her to join the show, Marchese’s attention is on attracting the right artists and buyers. A successful show, she emphasizes, has less to do with attendance and everything to do with getting great artists vying to show their work at the festival – and to draw in serious buyers who are willing to spend.
“There tends to be a certain association with festival art,” she continued. “One of my goals is to dispel the stigma and have more art connoisseurs who come to Miami recognize the treasure trove of brilliant work that shows here. Many are already getting the picture.”
In 2023, CGAF will be showing the work of 285 fine art artists in various categories, including 2D and 3D mixed media, painting, clay, glass, jewelry, metal, photography, sculpture, wood, and printmaking.
As for Marchese’s personal feelings about her role, “This is the very role I wanted. I’m passionate about this show. I’m passionate about the artists. And I want to build more artists and more collectors. No one is going to treat this festival better than I will.”
About the Coconut Grove Arts Festival
Spanning three days over Presidents’ Day weekend, the annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival a premier art festival celebrating the fine arts with live performances and local flavors.
As one of the largest art festivals in the United States, thousands of people gather each year along Coconut Grove’s waterfront streets to view the works of nearly 285 internationally known and jury-selected artists across 15 visual categories.
Produced by the nonprofit, 501(c)(3), Coconut Grove Arts & Historical Association, festival proceeds fund the Annual Scholarship Program and other education and outreach programs such as the New & Emerging Artists Program and the High School Mentoring Series. Year-round arts initiatives also include special exhibitions at the Mayfair in the Grove, Visiting Artists Week, and a partnership with the New World School of the Arts.
For information, visit https://www.cgaf.com/.