Celebrating the Arts
The 27th annual Orange Street ArtsFest in Downtown Wilmington on Memorial Day weekend will be fun for the whole family.
Thalian Association Community Theatre’s Orange Street ArtsFest (OSAF) will return to Downtown Wilmington on Memorial Day weekend with 86 artists exhibiting oil and watercolor paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry, metal arts, and cloth and paper creations.
One of the largest arts festivals in Downtown Wilmington, the celebrated street fair is held on Orange Street between Front and Second streets and continues on Second Street from Orange Street to Dock Street. Parts of the fair are also held inside the Hannah Block Historic USO/ Community Arts Center. The 27th annual Orange Street ArtsFest is sponsored by WDI and Bring It Downtown, WWAY, WHQR, Cumulus Media, WAAV, WGNI, WMNX, WWQQ and WKXS.
“Orange Street Artsfest is one of our favorite events every year and marks the unofficial beginning of summer in Downtown Wilmington,” says Susan Habas, executive director of Thalian Association Community Theatre. “This is the perfect time to celebrate our wonderful artists, visit the Historic USO Building and explore the city!”
The festival will be juried by award-winning artist Benjamin Billingsley, who holds an MFA from UNC-Greensboro and has exhibited work in the United States, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Japan.
Billingsley has taught studio art and art history at Cape Fear Community College since 2001 and in 2006 received the Marilyn Goodman Anderson Endowed Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was the curator for a 2015 exhibition at the Cameron Art Museum, The Eye Learns: Modernist Prints from the Belden Collection and was the judge for the CAM’s 2016 Art of Illumination. He also served as a judge for the Wilmington Art Association’s 2021 Azalea Festival Spring Show at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center.
Fabulous food is a highlight of the family-friendly festival, with culinary delights from Taqueria La Villita, The Donut Bus, Snowy of the Carolinas, North Carolina Sweet Tea and Brighter Days Coffee.
The festival will also celebrate young artists with the 2023 Laney High School Spring Ceramics Show & Sale.
Ceramic creations of 50 high school students from the Clay Club will be displayed inside the building in the Peggy Farrell Studio. The students are under the instruction of ceramics teacher Kristen Morgan.
For the first time, young visitors and their families will be able to preview the Community Arts Center’s renowned summer program Creative Arts Camp. An interactive camp station will be provided Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm in the Linda Lavin Studio inside the building. Prospective campers can play games based on visual and performing camp weeks like Magical Muggles, Comic Book Adventures and Disney Mash-Up.
The public is invited to tour all the World War II exhibits while visiting the inside artists. Festival visitors can view the lobby museum of the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center with the wartime exhibits including memorials to Wilmington’s two Medal of Honor recipients.
Thalian Association Community Theatre launched the OSAF in 1995 to promote the arts in Wilmington and the Community Arts Center (CAC), located in the Historic USO building. The community theatre association has managed the CAC for the City of Wilmington since 1994. The 81-year-old landmark building, long recognized as the local center of visual and performing arts, was completely renovated in 2008 and is now known as the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center. For more information about the building and its history please visit wilmingtoncommunityarts.org.
Want to go?
Orange Street ArtsFest
Memorial Day weekend: Saturday, May 27, 9 am to 5 pm & Sunday, May 28, 10 am to 5 pm
On Orange Street between Front and Second streets, Second Street from Orange to Dock Street, and inside the Hannah Block Historic USO/ Community Arts Center