‘I was over the moon’: Two artists gear up for the return of Main St. Arts Festival
See full Fort Worth Report article by Marcheta Fornoff here.
Jeribai Andrew-Jaja has worked as a computer programmer, an information technology specialist and has a master’s degree in cybersecurity, but his tools of choice are graphite and charcoal.
Born and raised in Nigeria, the artist moved to Kentucky to study computer science in 2013.
He sees his art as an avenue for telling stories, and he continued to hone his craft while studying and working in tech. After moving to Fort Worth in 2021, the opportunity to pursue his passion as a career began to crystallize.
“When I came here, I saw more avenues where I can actually showcase myself as an artist, and I embraced it,” he said. “Main Street was one of the first major ways I’ve ever showcased my art … And I found out, OK, I can actually earn a living doing what I love.”
The festival returns to downtown April 20-23.
At the 2022 festival he was awarded “best in show” in the emerging artist category for his photorealistic drawings of animals and humans.
For Andrew-Jaja, it’s hard to beat the quality of the art, the size of the crowd and the level of exposure at Main Street. As an independent artist who is not represented by a gallery, sales and commissions from the festival are a significant source of his annual income.
“As an artist, there is the dream of being able to see how the people that buy your work connect with it,” he said. “In addition to the fulfillment you make money … and most of the money is yours. You’re not splitting it over and over … I’m making money that can sustain me.”
Artists pay an application fee and booth rent, but the festival does not take a cut of the artist’s sales, which Andrew-Jaja said makes a big difference.
Dolan Geiman, a Colorado-based artist who makes sculptures and collages using found materials, grew up in a family of artists and started doing art shows when he was in high school.
“A-list artists would say ‘Good luck getting into Fort Worth’,” he said. “A lot of people think that you just drop in casually during the show, but it’s a really strict process.”
Last year, the jury selected 220 artists to exhibit out of more than 1,000 applications.
Geiman waited for a few years to apply as he continued to build his body of work.
“The (first) year that I got in I was over the moon,” he said.
He heard from other artists who were able to attend the festival and sell out their inventory, but he wasn’t convinced that he’d have the same luck.
“I sold almost every piece of work I had. The show was packed every day. People were kind and generous … it was almost too good to be true,” he said.
Since then, Geiman has shown his work at the festival several times. This year, he is not only exhibiting but he was also selected to design the festival’s commemorative poster.
He wanted to take that honor one step further and partnered with a local Fort Worth company, Fringe Scarves, to make silk scarves based on a photo he took during a rainstorm as he was leaving the festival last year.
For Geiman, being able to exhibit at the festival is always exciting.
“Any time I get back in the show, it’s like I won the lottery.”