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CHADDS FORD — Thousands of eager art aficionados descended on Chadds Ford Elementary this weekend, as the school hosted its 64th annual art show.
Started in the late 1940s by Betsy Wyeth — wife to Andrew and mother to Jamie, two of the region’s most famous and instantly recognizable artists — the event has become a yearly affair that attracts artists from throughout the region.
It also attracts buyers looking for unique and sometimes one-of-a-kind pieces that often reflect the beauty of the region that so deeply inspired the Wyeth family.
Event Co-Chairwoman Andrea Pandolfi said that while they don’t carefully track the sales figures throughout the weekend, steady traffic and record numbers at the Friday night gala premier had her thinking that sales would be the same as in recent years.
“We’ve had a nice, steady stream — we see about the same amount on people on Saturday as we do on Friday, but it’s over six hours as opposed to three,” Pandolfi said, adding that Friday night’s premier gala was very well attended.
“It was so packed that we had cars backed up onto Route 1,” said Co-Chairwoman Luci McClure. “We even ran out of parking spaces at one point.”
She added that it was one of the most crowded premiers she’s seen in her eight-year association with the art show, and that they enjoyed modest sales throughout the night.
She also said they’ve had a great reaction to the children’s art cafe presented by ArtBeat, and by the guided tours of the school’s numerous pieces of art on display — both firsts for the event.
“Every year we try to add something a little different — a different twist to bring people in,” she said. “It’s a really great community event.”
The event was also the first of its kind for comic artist John Gallagher, a high school friend of Pandolfi’s who finally took her up on an offer to set up shop at the show.
Gallagher was on hand to do custom drawings and to sell copies of his books, “Roboy Red,” “Zoey and Ketchup” and his best-known title “Buzzboy.”
He also handed out free copies of former Free Comic Book Day offerings, signing them for his eager new fans – many of which had met him the day before at one of his talks at the school.
“I’ll usually do small comic shows, and I do the New York and San Diego ComiCons, but this is my first art show,” he said. “But at a show like this, it’s definitely a different crowd than those.”
The annual art show brings in thousands of dollars for the school’s PTO — roughly two-thirds of its annual budget.
Those funds in turn are used to provide money for special in-class events, teacher projects and educational grants throughout the year.
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