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Small-Town Show, Big-Time Impact

In the tree-lined park of a small American town, nearly ten-thousand people – families, art collectors and first-time homeowners, to name a few – will peruse the work of artists from around the globe. This happens for the 58th year in Armonk on September 21-22.

The Armonk Outdoor Art Show (AOAS) showcases a selection of 185 juried artists in an outdoor display of works. A mix of media will be offered, from metal sculptures and embroidered paintings to photography and handcrafted instruments. In fact, this carefully selected roster has contributed to AOAS placing number-two in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine, which ranks fine art and design shows by revenue.

This is a big feat for a show that is in a town the size of Armonk, which has a population of less than 5,000. The other shows ranking in the top 10 are significantly larger locales and venues. The next largest is in Winter Park, Florida, with a population of nearly 31,000 – more than six times the size of Armonk. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that AOAS has held onto this ranking for the second year in a row.

With a jury of artists and art collectors who have their finger on the pulse of the art world, the list of exhibiting artists remains fresh year after year, and reflects currenttrends in the broader art world. Exhibiting artists hail from Canada, Israel and 26 states – but also Westchester County, like contemporary artist Evan Lorberbaum, who grew up in Armonk. His work takes inspiration from graffiti and abstract impressionism. Executive Director Anne Curran explains: “We want to appeal to a large audience, but also a young audience coming to us for the first time. It’s important to have contemporary and cutting-edge works and artists.”

For all of its big-name glory, the AOAS folds its efforts back into its community, with which it has a love-love relationship. The show is run entirely by more than 200 local volunteers who make the show possible each year. While AOAS is all about the art, built around it is a community event. Arts activities from Neuberger Museum of Art, Clay Art Center and ArtsWestchester’s ArtsMobile encourage participation from members of all ages. In addition, net proceeds from the show feed back into the community by funding programs and upgrades at the North Castle Public library. Proceeds also help to fund the Library’s Whippoorwill Theater, where productions of Armonk Players and Hudson Stage Company are presented.

According to North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro, “AOAS draws people from all over the Northeast and beyond to appreciate the unique and talented artists that exhibit enjoy the delicious food, and be part of the greater community experience.” He adds: “Hundreds of volunteers…give back to their community and enrich the free programming available to the public, only as a result of the money raised by AOAS.” How fitting that the Armonk Outdoor Art Show takes place in Community Park. For more info, visit armonkoutdoorartshow.org.

A version of this article first appeared in the September issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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