Under The Oaks Fine Arts & Crafts Show Drawing in Over 80,000 Visitors

“THE 58th ANNUAL SHOW! The Vero Beach Art Club proudly presents the prestigious “UNDER THE OAKS” national, juried fine art show. The largest public event on the Treasure Coast drawing over 80,000 visitors. The art world acclaims this three day show among America’s finest. … Over 200 top artists, carefully selected from several hundred applicants from all over America compete for best of show and first, second and third awards in each media while exhibiting and selling their original art…” proclaims the web site announcement of the fine arts & craft show held in Vero Beach, Florida over the March 13-15, 2009 weekend.

A major stop of the ritual trial of winter for artist who follow the seasons doing outdoor shows in the hamlets of Florida; then cruising the circuit to display in northern regions during summer, late spring, and fall. Many art and craftsperson’s follow this trail, providing an assemblage of motor homes and trailers to move their material from one show to another, creating “artist colonies” on the outskirts of the market. Some traveling homes are quite attractive castles, and others just small sleeper campers.

58th annual Fine Arts & Craft Show, Vero Beach, Florida

According to several artists this was one of the more competitive juried shows in the region. To be selected the potential exhibitors had to submit color slides of their work to be reviewed by judges to decide who to invite. This is a distinguishing feature, hinting to the quality and prestige of the show. Fairs which require color slides get fewer submission and the applications are from candidates which are usually more serious about displaying. Those events which accept “Zip disks” of the artist’s work are considered less attractive since the disks are easier to replicate and mail, therefore allowing more submissions and selectivity among the artist about which places they will attend.

“From Maine to Florida – New Mexico to Georgia …” was my initial idea for the opening of this article. That is until I met Yoram Gal, a water color artist with a heavy Mediterranean influence who lives in Jaffa, Israel. Yoram flies to the United States several times a year to participate in shows like this, keeping a store of his work in Houston. He prefers American events to European experiences, since they allow the viewer to shop among many types of media and buy pierces just for the love of it, instead of the one person show-gallery types which limits comparison among art forms in Europe.

Artistic talent and media ranged from jewelry to wood, clay to stone, glass to plaster, murals to miniature, nude to Victorian, and pencil to oil. The were lots of triptychs and panoramic photography, plenary to still life, and kinetic and soaring stationary sculptures. Watercolors and pottery seem particularly popular, as were outdoor scenes and lots of wildlife.

I had an interesting conversation with a full-time artist and fellow former Army trooper from Charleston, SC who had also served in German. Talking about his work and methods, gallery displays, and subject selection; Rich Reinert happily stated that he was “making a living doing what he loved,” an accomplishment all creative people fancy. There were several other artist who noted the lack of buying spirit in the crowd, blamed on the economy, as the free admission may had attracted a large turnout, but few buyers. The internet has also hit the artist community strong. Almost all appeared to have a web site, and many encouraged you to visit their “Online Gallery.”

Under the Oaks is a beautiful location for a festival. It’s also a great time of the year, and made a most enjoyable afternoon. In a park filled with a grove of live oaks, and well organized trails for the booths, it presents a fine opportunity for the crowd to roam the displays and interact with the artists. With an abundance of local artists displaying, along with a good number of national exhibitors, the conversation is pleasant and casual with artisans eager to talk and explain the intimate details of their creations.

Under the Oaks

Fine Arts & Crafts Show

Presented Annual, usually in March

Vero Beach Art Club


Lionel A. Varnadoe Jr.

Lionel A. Varnadoe, Jr. is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and writes books, articles, and reviews on a variety of topics and can be reached through NewsBlaze.