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Opening Night Party

A ticketed event, the annual Opening Night Party officially opens the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival on Friday, May 17, 6-9 p.m., in the Reston Town Center Pavilion. This posh party features live music, entertainment, a silent auction, signature cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres and lively socializing. Tickets are $100. Walk-in guests may purchase tickets at the door.

If you go

What: 2013 Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival

Where: Reston Town Center

When: Friday, May 17, artists’ booths open 5-8 p.m., Preview Party in Pavilion 6-9 p.m.; Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, May 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Information: Call GRACE at 703-471-9242 or email info@restonarts.org. Visit website at www.restonarts.org.

When visitors come to the three-day Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival at Reston Town Center, starting today and continuing through Sunday, they should be pleased to see that all the major features that have made it one of the top outdoor arts festival’s in the country are back—hundreds of juried fine artists, all kinds of inventive children’s arts activities and artfully dynamic and complementary entertainment.

What Damian Sinclair, executive director of the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), also wants the expected 50,000-plus festival attendees to clearly recognize is that the festival, celebrating its 22nd year, is produced annually by GRACE.

“I want to make it clear to festival patrons that the Greater Reston Arts Center is running this event,” Sinclair said recently. “We’re putting GRACE front and center this year.”

One of the simplest ways to get that message across, Sinclair said, will be to locate the official GRACE information/merchandise booth in the festival’s most central location –in front of Reston Town Center’s iconic Mercury Fountain.

Across from the fountain in the Town Center’s Pavilion, GRACE will be installing a temporary exhibition of interactive sculptures. By making, the Pavilion space “almost an extension” of the art center’s gallery, Sinclair hopes to further underscore the festival/GRACE bond.

“We want to get the GRACE experience right up front,” Sinclair said.

The 2013 festival features more than 200 juried, fine art and fine craft artists, -- including nine out of 10 of last year’s festival award winners -- working in 16 different mediums and selling at a variety of price points.

For a second year, the festival be will open on Friday night, too. While early-bird patrons browse the hundreds of open artist booths, GRACE’s annual upscale opening night party--featuring live music, entertainment, a silent auction, signature cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and lively socializing--will be underway in the Town Center Pavilion.

As guests mingle, performers from Arachne Aerial Arts, inspired by the surrounding sculptures, will artfully entertain. Known for its high impact performances, Arachne Aerial Arts--who also will perform during the festival, including a special, longer performance after artist booths close at 6 p.m. on Saturday night--combines “the artistry of dance with the drama of aerial acrobatics.” During the festival, fellow aerial artists, In-Flight Theater, also will join Arachne.

In addition to celebrating the opening of the festival, the ticketed party raises funds for GRACE programs, including GRACE Art (formerly known as Art in the Schools). Currently there are nearly 50 public and private schools and other educational programs from several counties enrolled in GRACE Art.

In recent years, the festival’s overall net income—from corporate sponsors, individual contributors and artist participation fees --accounts for approximately 40 percent of GRACE’s annual budget of about $520,000.

The always-popular Children’s Art Tent, offering a host of creative activities, will again be the hub of family-oriented action. To enhance its visibility, the tent will be configured with open sides, weather permitting.

Inspired by the theme “Art Around the World, “ projects include: creating dancing dragon or fish fans and Chinese brush painting in tribute to Asian cultures; making African masks; designing paper-plate mandalas (intricate graphic and symbolic designs used by many different cultures to evoke spiritual energy, meditation and healing); and painting Indian “Mehndi Art Gloves,” the artistic decoration of hands and feet with henna.

In addition to the Children’s Art Tent, Reston Town Square Park, transformed for the weekend into a Family Art Park, will feature a new Teen Art Tent and a special Totem Pole public art project, sponsored by the Initiative for Public Art-Reston. Visitors of all ages will be invited to create their own totem sections and add them to the Totem Poles. There also will be a Chill-Out tent, a family friendly space where families may simply sit and relax.

Admission to the Festival is free. However for a voluntary donation of $10 to GRACE, paid at the festival’s colorful “Art Carts,” visitors will receive a $10 gift certificate to dine at participating Reston Town Center restaurants.

Critiquing the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, the “Art Fair Source Book” noted: “The art and craftwork exhibited will delight you in its variety, quality and vision. In these days of strip malls and cookie cutter chain stores, art fairs are undeniably the most interesting shopping venues left in the country.”