Magic City Art Connection
The Magic City Art Connection (MCAC) is a juried outdoor art show and festival that features local, regional and national artists as well as children's activities, performances, and special food events. It has been held annually at Linn Park since 1983, and is currently the largest outdoor arts festival in the Southeast. Since 2011 the event has been produced by the Foundation for Arts & Cultural Connections, a non-profit founded by festival director Eileen Kunzman.
The Magic City Art Connection has its origins in the Sidewalk Art Show organized by the Birmingham Art Association in 1938 as a benefit for the Birmingham Museum of Art. For many years, the free event was sponsored by Operation New Birmingham and the City of Birmingham. In 2015 the city ended the practice of waiving service fees for events held in public parks and closed-off streets, forcing the festival to begin charging admission for adults.
The 2019 featured artist was John Lytle Wilson. His painting "Primary Alliance" was featured on marketing materials for the April 26-28 event. Amy Pleasant was the 10th recipient of the "Distinguished Artist Award", last presented in 2000. One-day regular gate admission was $5 on Friday and $10 on Saturday or Sunday.
The 2018 festival was held on April 27-29. The featured artist was Lisa Krannichfeld of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mia Badham was presented with the "Emerging Artist Award". Guest judge Nico Manuera from Valencia, Spain selected Larry Allen as "Best in Show".
The 2017 event took place on April 28-20. Celeste Pfau was honored as both Featured Artist and Emerging Artist. Wassan Al-Khudhairi served as festival judge. She presented the "Best in Show" ribbon to Lisa Krannichfeld.
In 2015 the festival was held on the weekend of April 22-24. For the first time, admission was charged for adults to enter the event. The change was made due to steeply higher fees charged by the City of Birmingham for services related to the use of the park.
Festival awards went to Samuel Yao (Best in Show), Joseph Frye, Katherine Linn, and Chiharu Roach (Signature Awards) and Christine Green, Chad Moore, Eric Forsyth and Jayne Morgan (Awards of Distinction). The "Emerging Artist Award" went to Jared Ragland.
The 2014 event took place on the weekend of April 25–27. Photographer Chad Moore's work was selected for the festival's poster and publicity materials. Sculptor Nelson Grice was awarded "Best in Show" and fellow sculptor Sarah Heath was presented the "Emerging Artist Award".
The 2010 event was held April 23 and 25 (The site was closed on Saturday April 24 due to severe weather). The "emerging artist" was Binx Newton. No installation artist was featured. Students from the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Altamont School, Erwin High School and Mountain Brook High School provided site sculptures on the theme of "skin and bones".
The 13th annual Corks & Chefs event accompanied the free festival.
The 2009 event was held April 24-26 with 255 juried artists. The festival juror was Skylar Fein. The installation artist was Christopher Fennell and the "emerging artist" was Spencer Shoults. The 12th annual Corks & Chefs event featured members of the Birmingham Originals restaurant coalition. In concert with the Birmingham International Festival's Spotlight on Israel and Jordan, a workshop incorporating Israeli folk dance was part of the festival, and the MCAC sponsored a screening of Girls From Brazil at WorkPlay.
The 2008 event was held April 25-27 with 225 juried artists. The festival jurors were Shana Berger and Nathan Purath. The installation artist was Pinky Bass and the "emerging artist" was Walton Creel. The 11th annual Corks & Chefs event featured several area restaurants. In concert with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, a group of sculptors, artisans and musicians from Pietrasanta, Italy gave on-site demonstrations and performances.
The 2007 event was held April 27-29 with 225 juried artists. The festival juror was Ron Platt. The installation artist was Randy Gachet and the "emerging artist" was John Fields of New Orleans, Louisiana. The 10th annual Corks & Chefs event featured 16 restaurants. In concert with the Birmingham International Festival's Spotlight on the Czech Republic, works from the International Biennial of Drawing in Plzen were exhibited and the Alfa Theatre puppet troupe from Plzen performed during the festival. The weekend's weather was perfect.
The 2006 event was held April 28-30. 225 artists participated. The "Corks & Chefs" food tent returned, along with the children's "Imagination Festival". The festival juror was Rick Lowe from Houston. The year's featured "emerging artist" was Clayton Colvin. The festival added a featured "installation artist" to the program, selecting Jim Neel to exhibit in 2006.
The 2005 event was held April 22-24. Festival juror was Louise E. Shaw of Atlanta. The "Best of Show" award went to Les Slesnick. The featured "emerging artist" was Jane Timberlake. Other distinctions went to Spencer Shoults, Kem Alexander, Tom Turnbull, Ronnie Phillips, Sadie Wang, Antjuan Oden, and John & Breane Trest. Merit awards went to Debra Fritts, Jon Coffelt, Marie Weaver, Conner Burns, Julia Peerson, Susan Leslie Lumsden, Bethanne Hill, Kevin Irwin, Dan Bynum, Guadalupe Lanning Robinson, William Kwamena-Poh, and Aimee Elizabeth Simonton.
Printmaker Scott Stephens served as festival juror.
Gallery owner Lorenzo Pace served as festival juror.
Russell and Paula Panczenko served as festival jurors. Anne Arrasmith was presented with the "Distinguished Artist Award".
Master printer Joseph M. Segura and gallery owner Lissa Sette served as festival jurors. Arthur Stewart won the "Distinguished Artist Award".
Gallery owner Max Protetch served as festival juror. The "Distinguished Artist Award" was given to John Dillon.
John Wetenhall and artist "Gronk" served as festival juror. Ellen De Mello Weiland received the "Distinguished Artist Award".
Peter Boswell served as festival juror. Lonnie Holley was the 1996 "Distinguished Artist".
Kim Abeles served as festival juror. The "Distinguished Artist Award" went to Al Sella.
John T. Scott and David Gilhooly served as festival jurors. Merton Brown was given the "Distinguished Artist Award".
Trent Whitington and Gianfranco Mantegna served as festival jurors. The "Distinguished Artist" was Leah Jones.
Mel Edwards and Helen C. Frederick served as festival jurors. Edith Frohock won the "Distinguished Artist Award".
Jo Tartt and Jerry Beck served as festival jurors.
Jo Hanson and Stephen Flinn Young served as festival jurors.
Cam Newell served as festival juror.
Fay Gold and Michael Lucero served as festival jurors. Edith Frohock was the distinguished artist.
Tom Butler and Vicki Kopf served as festival jurors.
Jane Kessler and Hollis Sigler served as festival jurors.
Harvey K. Littleton and Elaine Horwitch served as festival jurors.
Ivan Karp and Paul Brach served as festival jurors.