Festival focuses on fine arts

Rather than hold down a booth at the Boulder City Fine Arts Festival, Rainer “R.B.” Bertrams would rather craftsmen take a hike.

“Only fine artists need apply,” says the festival’s director.

The Boulder City Art Guild’s annual shindig — which began in 1985 as the Clark County Artists’ Show — celebrates its 25th year this weekend in Bicentennial Park.

“I saw a guy yesterday who had these great carved wood plates,” Bertrams says. “Then I look up his Web site and find that he doesn’t even manufacture them.”

Bertrams says “some poor schlub in Peru” does the carving; the self-proclaimed “artist” just flies there a couple of times a year with his checkbook.

Bertrams told the applicant: “You get the guy who carves these up here and I’ll let him in!”

Bertrams is an outspoken, 65-year-old Boulder City resident who ran two previous art shows for the guild at Lake Las Vegas. He’s also a woodworking artist who exhibited at last year’s Fine Arts Festival, but found his new duties — thrust upon him following the departure last year of former director Rose Ann Miele — too time-consuming to produce any new art.

“People love this festival because they’re not bogged down by crap,” Bertrams says. “There are no tchotchkes.”

That’s a thinly veiled reference to Boulder City’s larger Art in the Park festival, organized every fall by the Boulder City Hospital Foundation.

“Their purpose is to raise money for the hospital,” Bertrams says. “Our purpose is to provide scholarships for art students, so we’ve got to be a little bit more selective and hard core.” (The guild, a 501c, offers six annual $1,000 scholarships to Clark County high school and college students studying fine arts.)

Bertrams estimates that half of all applicants for this year’s festival were turned down before the final 125 were selected and charged $200 per space. These artists represent seven Southwestern states and the gamut of painting and photography styles — as well as work in glass, metal and wood. Asked to single one out for praise, Bertrams names Boulder City’s own Lynne Jordan.

“She carves wood by burning it,” Bertrams says. “It’s real interesting stuff.”

Because of the recession, Bertrams expects attendance to dip from last year’s estimated 13,500 to about 10,000.

“We know the economy is down and art is one of the first things that gets hit,” he notes.

But the festival is free to the public and its scholarship money is already raised. So Bertrams negates any impact on the guild’s goals.

“The artists may not be too happy about it, though,” he says.

Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0456.

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