Can’t Miss Artists at This Year’s MAIN ST. Arts Festival

Hundreds of thousands of people will gather in downtown Fort Worth, April 14-17, for the 31st MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival.

The largest art festival in Texas, stretching more than 27 blocks, will spotlight 208 jury-selected local and national artists, nearly 140 top musical groups, culinary dishes from across the state, and arts-and-crafts for all ages.

Photo by Geno Loro

This year’s event is presented by Blue Moon Brewing Company®, which is distributed throughout the DFW Metroplex by Andrews Distributing Company and produced by Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc. Admission is free to the public.

Many of the award-winning artists from the 2015 festival will exhibit, including Best Of Show-winner Terry Evans (wood), Merit Award-winner David Conn (printmaking), and Juror Award-winner Andrew Carson (sculpture). Mediums include jewelry, digital, mixed-media, leather, fiber, painting, sculpture, drawing/pastels, metalwork, photography, ceramic, wood and glass. By the end of the festival, $4.6 million worth of art is expected to be sold.

“Every year, MAIN ST. attracts thousands of art enthusiasts, culinary connoisseurs and musical gurus to Fort Worth for a weekend dedicated to art, food, music, and culture,” says Larry Anfin, chairman of the Festivals and Events Committee for Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc. “It has been incredible to witness MAIN ST.’s transformation into one of the nation’s top outdoor arts festivals, and if the 2016 MAIN ST. is anything like the previous 30 years, it is certainly going to be an unforgettable event for all those involved.”

Exhibiting artists from Fort Worth include: George Baah (leather), Thomas Diel (mixed media), Jennifer Harrison (leather), Raymond Raines (glass), Tabitha Schmitt (emerging artist), Steven Smith (emerging artist) Pamela Summers (ceramics) and David Conn (printmaking). Other area artists include: Anne Cubbage (mixed media), Arlington; Paul Ernest (digital), McKinney; Anne Marie Haynes (emerging artist), Plano; Elaine Johnson (emerging artist), Bedford; Mark Morgan (emerging artist), Frisco; Jennifer Reid (emerging artist), Denton; Bethany Steward (emerging artist), Waxahachie; and James Thurman (emerging artist), Denton.

Artist and master printmaker David Conn founded Shaw Street Studio in Fort Worth in 2009.

He specializes in hand-pulled, fine art prints and large-scale paintings. His work has been shown in more than 100 exhibitions in the U.S., Central and South America, Japan, England and Europe, and is showcased in permanent collections of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Modern Museum of Art in San Paulo, Brazil, and the Bureau of Art Exhibitions in Lodz, Poland. It can also be found in corporate and university private collections, including Southwestern Bell, GTE Corporation, American Airlines, Texas Christian University, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Dallas, The University of Texas at Tyler, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Conn has taught art at TCU since 1969. 

He spent a few minutes with us in February to talk about his work.

Q. Thank you, David, for taking time to talk with us today. First, could you explain your process and what is a linocut? Linocut was a term used by Picasso to describe a print made by carving shapes in a sheet of linoleum. It’s a form of relief printing, created by carving out shapes in the surface. When printed, these areas will be white, while the uncarved areas will hold the ink and be black.

My method starts with a photograph that interests me. After selecting an image, I make a Xeroxed copy which I use as a guide and transfer it to the block facedown so that when it’s printed, the image reverses itself. Looking through a magnifying glass, I carve in all directions with one tool, called a liner. During the carving and proofing stage, I can see how to enhance and refine the image.

Q. Do you remember the first time someone recognized your talent? The summer when I was 12 years old, my family leased a cottage down the shore in New Jersey. My parents bought me a small watercolor set. One day I took it, along with a pad, pencil, three brushes and a jar of water, to the pier. Propping myself up against a railing, I set about painting boats and the evening sun. A young couple in their mid-20s walked by, and the girl asked if I was an artist. I felt a tingle rush up my spine as I said yes.

Q. What is your artist’s statement? I believe my images stem from a deep inner connection between nature and the human psyche. These scenes may resonate with a wish for containment, an experience of loss, or a memory of wonder and awe.

Q. Who was your mentor? In my last year at the Maryland Institute, my drawing teacher asked me to assist him. He offered to pay me $20 a day to work on the weekend. He showed me the printing order, how he wanted the ink distributed onto the plate, and its initial wiping. Then he would do the final wiping and set the plate on the press. Under great pressure, together we’d pull the print. Our process was machine-like and exacting, and this hands-on tutorial and experience taught me how to be a professional printer. My teacher was Peter Milton, who is now regarded as America’s premier printmaker. Throughout my teaching career, I utilized the voice of Milton. 

Q. Tell us about your work in the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In the summer of 2015, I invited some Amon Carter staff and curators to my studio to go through a series of linocuts that date back to 2000. They chose three which represent the scope and overall breadth of this body of work: Mule Trail/Pecos Wilderness 2002, Pale Morning Dun/Sussex County 2006, and Tapestry 2005.

Q. What do you enjoy the most about the MAIN ST. festival? The artists who exhibit come from all over the nation and abroad. I enjoy the people I meet over the four days that feel like having four gallery openings. They do a great job with this festival. 

For more information about the festival,

Festival hours
Thursday, April 14: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday, April 15: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday, April 16: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, April 17: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.