Deep Ellum Arts Festival celebrates local and visiting artists

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The sidewalks were filled with many members of the Deep Ellum community as well as people from neighboring towns April 6-8 for the Deep Ellum Arts Festival. The festival brought artists from different creative backgrounds such as painting, music and the culinary arts to six consecutive blocks of Main Street to celebrate their talents.

The Arts Festival began as a block party in 1994, and since then it has grown into one of the largest visual and performing arts festivals in the region. Property owner Don Blanton founded the event that now receives international recognition for its impressive display of visual and performing arts. Each year, the festival showcases more than 100 bands and singer-songwriter performances, 200 visual artists selling original pieces, 30 restaurants serving their famous cuisine, and even designated space for spontaneous street performances.

Jessica Free has made it a tradition for the past five years to attend the festivities with her mother. They enjoy seeing what art other people have created.

“I come every year with my mom and I just love how there is something for both of us to enjoy,” Free said. “We will walk the streets looking at the different styles of art and then go get something to eat and enjoy the music, and then get up and do it all over again. I’d say there really is something for everyone here.”

Hundreds of companies in the nearby area, such as Deep Ellum Brewing, Red Bull and DART, sponsor the festival to keep the event free to the public. It also receives generous donations and grants from individuals who support the arts. Many attendees view the festivities both as a great way to celebrate original creativity and as a fun and entertaining way to come together as a community.

Sarah Singer attended the Deep Ellum Arts Festival the past two years and returns to enjoy the various types of crafts displayed throughout the streets.

“I love being able to see people take a little bit of culture from all around the world and see what kind of art they are able to make out of it. You can really get a sense of the artist by just looking at their art,” Singer said.

The streets were decorated with an eclectic range of artistic mediums, including photography, henna-styled painting and even wood-burning designs. Valerie Hunt is an artist from Wonderwall Designs who attends the festival not only to showcase her designs but also to admire the work of others around her.

“I love to see what works for other artists and get inspired to see if something like that could work for me. I do love the great amount of artistry that they have here,” Hunt said.

While many of attendees are local to the area, the invitation reached further than the Dallas-Fort Worth area, capturing an international audience.

“You see some high-scale pieces and then you see things that you really would never be able to see anywhere else. I mean you have artists coming from all across the country and nothing in the world can top that,” Hunt stated.

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