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Arts in the Middle Festival has Record Attendance

Laura DeNardo from Baltimore, Maryland won Best in Show this weekend at Arts In the Middle Festival.

The ninth annual Arts in the Middle Festival brings about 3,000 visitors to Urbanna June 3rd and 4th. The popular outdoor festival featured juried visual artists from up and down the east coast, local and student artists galleries, two venues offered an array of outstanding musicians, while SouperChefG’s Homemade Soups and Seasalt LLC provided food and sweet treats.

The 2023 show presented more than 100 artists from Florida to Connecticut, along with local communities and Middlesex High School. Juried artists exhibited in their own booths on AIM's Artist Row offering original paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, mixed media, glasswork, furniture, and more. The Local Artist and Emerging Student Galleries featured works from local artists, current and past high school artists. (For a list of exhibiting artists and their media, go to

Visitors walked along the historic lane under beautiful trees with (or without) a glass of champagne or wine as they enjoyed and purchased favorite pieces of art. Many tasted SouperChefG’s Homemade Soups, Adam Ginsberg’s popular breakfast burritos, soups and AIM specific lunch menu while listening to the music, poetry, readings, and historical tidbits.

Music coordinator, Clayton Neal, put together an impressive lineup of musicians for both the big stage and acoustic stage over the weekend. The literary arts tent returned this year as well.

AIM’s kids area offered a variety of art activities for children. The community project was decorating the sail of a boat. Independent projects were creating paint brushes from items found in nature, an artist trading card station, and another was a station centered around using nature to create art: drawing in the sand or creating with rocks. Blair Rhodes said “my goal was to add a variety of self-paced art stations designed to engage the senses, connect with nature, and bond with family.” The “I love your art” ribbons offered Junior judges the opportunity to present blue ribbons to their favorite artists.

Dr. Sara James, a Professor Emerita of Art History at Mary Baldwin University was our judge this year. She enjoyed walking artist row and seeing the variety of art. Dr. James spoke during the artist reception before naming our award winners and compared some of famous artists like Betye Saar and Georgia O’Keefe.

Awards were handed out during a reception Saturday evening. Laura DeNardo, a photographer from Baltimore, Maryland won Best in Show. William H. Clarke from Blackstone, Virginia won second place for his folk art paintings. The Best Painting award went to Laura Edwards from Irvington, Virginia. The Best Photography award was given to Richard Hogge from Yorktown, Virginia. Best Three Dimensional art went to ceramicist Russell Turnage. Honorable Mention awards were given to Mary Ellen Huennekens and Jennifer Domal. The Local Artist Award was given to fiber artist Lynn Gillikin, and Best Student Artist award was given to Karime Juarez and Lauren Ahnemann.

Arts in the Middle is dedicated to its mission of outreach and support of the arts in our community. Show proceeds allow AIM to support local school art programs, collaborative art events with the Middlesex Museum and Historical Society, and AIM sponsored local art shows providing local artists (visual, performing and culinary) opportunities to showcase and sell their works.

Bringing a show of this magnitude to fruition each year is the direct result of the tireless work of many volunteers, our generous sponsors and the never-ending support from the community. The support for the 2023 festival was provided by a grant from The Virginia Commission of the Arts matched with funding from the Middlesex County Economic Development Authority; and support from business and individual donors. The AIM Board of Directors and Planning Team thanks each for allowing them to continue the mission. Organizers encourage anyone interested in being a volunteer or sponsor to join our growing team. More information is at the website:

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