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Leslie Wentzell Enjoys Her First ArtFields Experience

Anderson Artists Guild member Leslie Wentzell had a piece accepted this year into ArtFields, the big arts festival held in late April and early May in Lake City, S.C., and she came away thrilled by the experience.


Now in its twelfth year, the festival was created to revitalize the town. It attracted attention immediately with its big prize money, including $50,000 for the first-place winner. Other prizes are $25,000 for second place, two $12,500 People’s Choice awards, and five $2000 merit awards. Oversized checks are handed out in a ceremony at the end of the nine-day event. Eligible artists must live in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia.


“I had never entered before, but it was on my radar for quite a long time,” said Wentzell. “When I still lived in Florida, a girl interning in my studio entered and won the People’s Choice award. I was blown away. I had never heard of it before, and the prize money was so extravagant.” 

Her piece, Rumors Gather Like Crows (ceramic and yarn) was exhibited at the Lake City Public Information office. The 400 accepted pieces can be found at many different venues throughout the town, from barber shops to restaurants to antique shops to exhibit halls. The artwork is wide ranging, from paintings to sculptures to installations.


During the event, there are additional competitions, including portrait and plein air contests. Near the end, artists can deliver three-minute talks about their works, and there is musical and spoken word entertainment, as well.


“It was a fun experience,” said Wentzell. “It was cool to have gotten in, it’s not far from us, it’s inexpensive, and the works and the artists are very diversified.” She hopes to enter again next year.


AAG member Evelyn Beck, who also attended this year, enjoyed the immersiveness of the experience. “Everywhere you go in town, people are talking about art,” she said. “It was magical.”


AAG member Wesa Neely has attended ArtFields twice. “It’s a unique art experience, an amazing venue for creativity,” she said. “My visits have been with friends my age and with my daughter and her friends. It is fun to see their reactions to the variety and wide range of types of art displays. The displays are imbedded in the businesses in town so it really is an immersive experience. Also, there is a huge display of quite large 3-D art structures in a warehouse type building. The whole town celebrates this fabulous display of all types of art—traditional, modern, abstract, sculpture, painting, textiles, metal, wood, ceramic, drawing, photography, and many other mediums. Also, at times there are musical performances and art demonstrations. There is so much to see that it can be a two-day event. So plan to be able to spend the night in the area. ArtFields is a treasure for our state!”


For more information about ArtFields, visit


(The photo above shows Leslie Wentzell, right, at ArtFields with her friend and fellow artist Anna Podris.)


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