In the 1990’s, several Northshore organizations banded together to create a new festival focusing on the arts. What they started, the Three Rivers Art Festival, is now in its 17th year. Diane Winston is the festival’s chairman.
“We started out with a couple of dozen booths perhaps — a lot of local artists, including the New Orleans area — and now we have 400 people applied, artists applied, for only 200 spots of this juried art show. And I would estimate this year perhaps we have 20 to 25 states represented. This year is probably no exception. We have them from Maine to the pacific northwest, from Florida to California,” Winston said.
Most festivals in Louisiana have an art tent. At Three Rivers, the art takes center stage.
“While we do have music and all manner of things related to arts and humanities, it is about the arts and humanities," Winston said. "We want this clearly to be identified as an arts festival. We support the artists. We do a lot with the student and children’s area that just isn’t exposing them to performance and other art kind of venues, but actually has them interact.”
Diane says the Northshore was a natural home for this festival because of the diversity of talent already living here.
“We have songwriters and musicians and jewelry making and wood workers all over the Northshore. We have, that’s been our history. We didn’t have to manufacture an arts community. It existed. And now we’re one of the best festivals in Louisiana, some would say the region,” she said.
Jamie Owens is a local artist who was selected to create the piece for this year’s festival poster. Jamie studied art and graphic design in school, but economic necessity drove him to open a sign shop. It was in his shop one day, playing with vinyl scraps, that Jamie stumbled upon his signature style.
“My medium is unique, for one. I don’t know anybody else sitting there with a razor blade cutting up scrap pieces of vinyl and sticking them on. I weave in reflective film, which is on fire trucks and police cars and ambulances. So, I call it art in two great lights, because you can look at it normal and it looks one way, but when you hold it with a light about eye-level, certain elements glow — just like it would if you pulled up on a police car at night,” Owen said.
When Jamie sought inspiration for the poster, he didn’t have to look beyond one of the local merchants on Columbia Street, the main Covington roadway occupied by the festival.
“I call it Encompassing Silhouettes. It’s basically a group of people in Covington kind of protecting over H.J. Smith & Sons museum, which was one of the last buildings standing in an historical fire in the past. They had several firefighters get between the burning building and the museum and held up tin to deflect the heat to be able to fight the fire. So, I thought it was important to show one of the last remaining original businesses in Covington and put my modern colorful spin on it with my vinyl work,” Owen said.
Owen is still a relative newcomer as professional artists go. As such, he recognizes the tremendous value of being an exhibitor at the Three Rivers Art Festival.
“If you love art, and you love to create it, I would say give it a shot. It can never hurt to just get out and expose your art to the world, because you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
The Three Rivers Art festival will be held during the day on November 9 and 10 this year in downtown Covington, and admission is free.
Northshore Focus is made possible with the support of the Northshore Community Foundation.