Updated 4:39 p.m. Oct 6

Houston’s fall arts season just got a bit more colorful because the Bayou City Art Festival has arrived. As we previously reported, the Art Colony Association’s autumnal festival has been converted into a Virtual Experience to ensure Houstonians can remain safe and socially distanced while soaking up all that artful beauty.

While the main festivities take place October 9–11, the Bayou City Art Virtual Experience began earlier this week with an online auction. The auction, which runs through October 8, features one-of-a-kind works from 2019-featured artist Julio Garcia and Houston watercolorist Helene Bernard Little, among others, as well as other experience packages, including a private, 20-person wine tasting and a stay at the Omni Hotel.

Come the weekend, the full Virtual Experience begins. Activities will include conversations with Houston artists and special guests like MFAH Director Gary Tinterow; culinary demonstrations from local chefs, plus artful cocktail demonstrations, courtesy of Derek P. Brown, mixologist of Riel; repeats of ACA’s Art Talk Happy Hour series; and interactive art activities for children.

There will also be an Art Crawl, offering behind-the-scenes looks at studios like those of storm-chasing Colorado photographer David Mayhew and the whimsically wild Jeff Leedy, as well as a virtual version of the festival’s art tents, where visitors purchase work from the festival’s 300 juried artists.

Patrons can gain access to the Bayou City Art Festival by making a donation through the fest’s website.

The Bayou City Art Festival may be getting up there in age, but it turns out that old fest’s still got some new tricks. The 49-year-old annual arts extravaganza is joining the ranks of other Covid-canceled festivals across the city, finding a fresh coat of paint online.

Now, the Bayou City Art Virtual Experience, featuring an online art auction, virtual performances, kid-centric art projects, and other yet-to-be-announced activities, will run online from October 5–11. According to a press release, tickets from this year’s festival will be honored at Bayou City Art Festival events in 2021. “The decision to convert our Bayou City Art Festival Downtown to a virtual experience was difficult, but the health and safety of our community and our festival family is our top priority,” Kelly Batterson, executive director of the Art Colony Association (ACA), which produces the festival, said in a statement. 

The pivot to online comes after the spring event (the Bayou City Arts Festival is held twice a year, at Memorial Park in the spring and Downtown in the fall) became one of the first casualties of the pandemic when it was canceled in March.

In addition to moving the festival online—a first in its almost 50-year history—organizers have also launched Save Our Art - One Passion. One Purpose, a fundraising campaign that, in partnership with the City of Houston, will support the arts, local artists, and local nonprofit partners. The campaign is not a surprise; over the years, ACA has raised more than $3.6 million for local nonprofit programs through its Bayou City Art Festivals.

More information at artcolonyassociation.org.

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