Calling all Art Lovers: the award-winning Cottonwood Art Festival is back for the fall on October 1 & 2, and it’s still the most awe-inspiring festival in town!

Just one step into the festival and you’ll be immersed into a creative wonderland of artwork and diverse exhibitions. Featuring one-of-a-kind, limited edition works in paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, fiber art, fine glass, woodwork, mixed media, and photography, there’s a new adventure around every corner.

Since 1969, this free festival has grown to become the leading art show in North Texas as over 200 of the best local, national, and international artists converge in Cottonwood Park for a one-of-a-kind outdoor gallery and juried art festival with interactive activities, delicious cuisine, and live music.

Michelle McDowell Smith is a Jacksonville, FL native, now living just south of the city in St. Johns, Florida. Skilled in the use of a wide variety of materials and mixed media techniques, Michelle strives to create pieces that have a familiar narrative yet still convey a fresh look and allow for the unexpected.

Her current body of work titled, “Of Land and Sky, Whimsical and Free, is centered in longstanding memories, fleeting ideas, and hope for the future. Since 2014 Michelle has shown this body of work at more than 80 juried art shows and festivals and walked away with multiple awards. Combining collage and acrylic paint; the artwork celebrates a theme of family, trust, love and the unique individuality found within ourselves and in others.

“I purposefully don’t create a family of foxes or a family just of deer. It needs to be more expansive to be more inclusive. The people we meet along our way through life become our family too, and give our time here more meaning,” says Michelle. “The figures in my paintings are bound together by trust, empathy, love and understanding.”

As the Featured Artist, Michelle’s custom artwork is incorporated into the new poster and festival merchandise. A recent collection of her originals will be available for purchase from her booth.

Photo courtesy of Cottonwood Art Festival

Community Outreach

In addition to bringing artists from all over the world to celebrate their art, The Cottonwood Art Festival also provides opportunities to students in the Richardson community to learn about the importance of art and foster their own blossoming creativity through two community outreach programs.

The Emerging Artist Program was created to recognize the talent of local senior high school art students by allowing them the privilege of displaying their work at the Charles W. Eisemann Center during April and selling their work alongside the attending professional and renowned artists. Interested students submitted an art concept, artist statement and images of their work to their teacher and a jury for acceptance into the program. Thanks to Neighborhood Credit Union, sponsors of the outreach program, the students will also receive placement awards and scholarship money. 

Cottonwood also partners with Richardson ISD for the Visiting Artist Program that increases participation in visual arts beyond the festival and into the classroom. Cottonwood artists make short presentations that provide hands on art activities and share their experiences with RISD classes. These visits provide artists an opportunity to give back to a community that has strongly supported fine arts for five decades, and students with the opportunity to meet real artists and learn lessons they’ll never forget.

Photo courtesy of Cottonwood Art Festival

Fun for the Whole Family!

The Cottonwood Arts Festival is an event for everyone with a variety of Festival food and beverage favorites, two stages of live music and even creative opportunities for kids to explore art.

On the Main Stage, families can lounge in the Courtyard and enjoy live music by artists including Ryan Berg & the Velvet Ears, Michael Lee, Big Joe Walker and Legacy 4. The Acoustic Stage will feature music by Myah Mayhew, Ireland and more! Meanwhile, kids can take their own creative journey through the ArtStop Children’s Area where they will experience various art styles at hands-on stations like Learn to Weave, Paint like Picasso, Explore Culture and more!

The Cottonwood Art Festival is fun for the whole family! Whether you’re a painting pro as good as Picasso or just love unique handmade jewelry, this is the fest for you with over 200 of the best local, national, and international artists showcasing their art in the luscious greenery of the beautiful Cottonwood Park in Richardson, TX.

Photo courtesy of Cottonwood Art Festival

For more information, including upcoming festival dates, news, and updates, please visit