The 66th Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, one of the oldest art festivals in California, is looking to infuse the landmark event – set for Sept. 23-24, 12-5pm in Old Mill Park – with an infusion of excitement via the next generation, showing the evolution and the next generation that young artists and art lovers are bringing to this historic event.
Organizers have selected, for the first time, a high school artist’s artwork to represent it. Laina Norwood, 17, an acrylic painter and a rising senior from Tamalpais High School, is the featured artist for the 2023 festival. “I take my inspiration from spending hours in nature and growing up on the hills of Mill Valley.” Norwood says.
“This year is an important year for us in many ways. Alongside the 135 juried artists presenting at the festival, we are featuring neurodivergent artists in our Special Presentation Grove, giving local painters, photographers and craft makers with a variety of hidden disabilities such as autism and ADHD a platform to showcase and sell their work. As part of our efforts to support the next generation of young artists in our community, we are also featuring work from a group of local teens. This year’s festival is bringing a renewed focus to family friendly activities and entertainment including a kids Art with Marin MOCA and a full schedule of puppet and magic shows as well as local bands to entertain attendees.
MVFAF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is grassroots, volunteer-led and run, is an iconic event in the community with more than 6,500 attendees every year supporting local artists through a juried show, where 135 artists are selected to sell their arts and crafts under the beautiful redwoods of Old Mill Park in Mill Valley. The event gives attendees a chance to hunt for hidden gems, check out bands that play both days every hour from 12pm – 5pm, and delight in a specially curated program for kids, families and art lovers, including puppet shows, a blue fairy, story time and magic shows.
“We have a renewed focus towards mentoring the next generation of young artists and being extremely inclusive and thoughtful to young families.” says Zachary Gilmour, the festival’s new President of the Board who is also an art teacher at the local high school.
Gilmour’s first job at the festival was picking up trash as a kid. He has been involved in the festival his whole life as an attendee and later on as an exhibiting artist and now the board. “I come from a family with multiple generations of artists and the Festival was a way my parents showed me what artists could do and be growing up. We want to make sure this continues for future artists, to have a space, to show their work and make a living from their art,” Gilmour says.
“Everything we do at the festival has always come back to making sure art and community is at the heart of our event,” says photographer and former MVFAF Board President, Barry Toranto. “I hope everyone has a great time with a unique creative experience– whether it be by finding some treasures or through enjoyment of live music booked on our main stage or installations nestled under the redwood trees.”
Everything found at the festival has to be handmade, as a rule of thumb. A jury of judges combs through all artist submissions and processes to ensure this is the case from photography, art prints to the jewelry sold. “Each year we receive hundreds of applications for our limited booth spaces at the festival. It is a highly competitive process. Each year’s new jury considers carefully the quality of work and makes sure everything has been completely handmade by the artist when making a decision on who shows at the event. It’s what sets us apart.” Gilmour says.
Performances: The Children’s Grove & The Main Stage
Two days of local and national musical talent brought to our beautiful main stage under the redwoods – bands and artists such as Jinx Jones, Dirty Cello, Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble and the Razteria Trio are scheduled to play every hour from 12pm until the festival closes at 5pm each day.
Children come for free to the festival. They can expect performances by celebrated entertainers such as Fratello Marionettes (puppet show) and Magic with Brian Scott, story times and even an interactive Improv performance by CTE the Tam High School drama group. The jam-packed schedule promises a rich and fun day filled with family activities for everyone.
2023 SPECIAL PRESENTATION: ART FOR A BETTER WORLD
Showcasing the work of neurologically diverse contemporary artists from Bay Area groups such as Art Without Boundaries, Oakhill School, The Helix School and Autistry Makers. Visit the Special Grove and open your mind to diversity in art and help these artists thrive!
“We are featuring neurodivergent artists in our Special Presentation Grove, giving local painters, photographers and craft makers with a variety of hidden disabilities such as autism and ADHD a platform to showcase and sell their work,” organizers said in a statement. “As part of our efforts to support the next generation of young artists in our community, we are also featuring work from a group of local teens. This year’s festival is bringing a renewed focus to family friendly activities and entertainment including a kids Art with Marin MOCA and a full schedule of puppet and magic shows as well as local bands to entertain attendees.”