The Affordable Arts Festival, hosted by the Arapahoe Community College, is an annual event where, for $12, you can wind your way between artist booths and buy art that speaks to your heart for $100 or less. This was the first year I attended, all thanks to my friend, Aeri, who let me know it was a thing. I’m so glad she did.
Three or four rows of booths on both sides meant there was plenty of art to look at. There were a variety of mediums present including photographs, acrylics on canvas, metalwork, glass work, and ceramics. There were a couple of booths focused on wood products and there were plenty of jewelry stalls too. Thus, even if the majority of the stalls weren’t your style, you were bound to find something that sparked joy. Doesn’t mean you to have buy it, but at least you know it’s out there in the world. The festival provided a list of all the artists so you could find your way to your favorites or mark the places where you wanted to return after making a loop. And it seemed that most artists would hold onto your art for you if you wanted to pick it up later after purchasing whatever else called to you.
The website mentions how cash is faster than credit cards and coming early means you can get the pieces that you want (they said people line up 2 to 3 hours before the event). Initially I scoffed at that. There’s no way I’m lining up at 6am to buy art. And I love art! Then I entered the grounds and saw how many people were there and I realized the organizers of this event were not joking. The place was packed, and most of us were not wearing masks. The whole thing was outdoors, so I felt safe, but I wanted to mention that for those who might not. Shari and I arrived at 9:30am, 30 minutes after the festival opened. The main parking lot was full but we found another parking lot nearby that had enough spaces for us to grab one. Still, unless there’s an artist and a piece that you HAVE to have, I don’t think you need to bring wads of cash with you nor come early unless you want a prime parking spot. All the booths took cards as far as I could tell and I never saw people fighting over anything.
There were food trucks at one end of the area so you could grab a snack or a meal before or after hunting for that perfect piece of art and there were golf carts that could help you truck your purchases to your car if you bought too much or had really heavy or bulky items.
The most appealing part of this event for me was the amount of artists and the prices. Art is expensive if you aren’t buying it from Amazon or Target so being able to purchase some for $100 or less and have it be handmade and from someone who likely doesn’t sell their works on those big websites, is special and awesome. I purchased two pieces, see photos above. The first piece is a ceramic vase by artist Juni Margrie. I have been looking for a flower vase that strikes my fancy for a few months now, as a treat to myself, so I felt sad each time I’d stop at a booth that had glass or wood and they either didn’t have vases or they didn’t have vases that I liked. Then I saw Juni’s pieces and I quickly learned I wanted to buy almost everything. A vase, a mug, a bowl, a plate, two plates! I like her aesthetic and work. Her websites says, “My ceramics are all about celebrating the joy that flowers and plants bring us,” and that’s exactly what I felt. She has free shipping for 2021 so if you see one or two of her pieces on my wishlist just know I couldn’t help it. 😉
The second piece I purchased is by Jenny Bullard and is RIGHT up my alley. Like, I’ve been wanting a piece like this for years. YEARS. I had seen almost every booth before I saw hers and I had felt slightly disappointed that I had yet to discover this kind of abstract work. Then I saw her booth and I wanted multiple pieces. (Are we seeing a trend?) I ended up with the one above and could not feel happier. Now I have to find a place to hang it up so I can see its beauty every day.
I never would have discovered either of those artists if I hadn’t gone to this event, so I am thrilled. And even if I had discovered them somehow, it’s likely I would never have bought pieces from them. This event gave me the prices that allowed me to feel comfortable enough to splurge a bit. I will definitely be returning to this festival next year in hopes of perhaps getting another piece from both of those artists and to also discover other works that scream, “Lauren, we belong together!”
Check out all the things I like about Colorado here!