Artist Matthew Mayes and his partner Brian

Atlanta transplant Randall Fox wants Turtle Creek Fine Arts Festival to bring art to everyone

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

When Randall D. Fox met a Dallas man online, it didn’t take him long to fall in love — first with the Dallas resident and then with the city itself.

His relationship with the man he met online has ended, but his love affair with the city continues. And it was that love affair that gave birth to Dallas’ newest arts event — the Turtle Creek Fine Arts Festival, debuting Saturday and Sunday, Nov 11-12.

“When I met this man from Dallas, I fell in love. I fell in love with him, with the city of Dallas and with the people of Dallas,” Fox said. “He broke up with me, but I still loved Dallas and the city here.”

Art-in-the-ParkSo much so, in fact, that Fox decided to move here, in a way. He still commutes weekly to Atlanta, where his organization, the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, is based.

But he spends his weekends at “home” here in Dallas.

“When I first started coming to Dallas, I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of couples, a lot of people. I realized that Dallas is a very welcoming place, very much a city with open arms,” he said. “It beckoned me. It called me. I just feel like I am home when I am in Dallas.”

Some folks might think that Dallas-to-Atlanta is a bit much for a regular commute. Fox thinks just the opposite.

“Actually, it is a perfect commute,” he said. “It’s $138 round-trip on Delta or Southwest. Every Friday, I fly home to Dallas for the weekend, and I commute back to Atlanta. I’m on the plane, and I do my work. I’m in my office in Atlanta by noon on Mondays and I am back home in Dallas by 5 on Fridays!”

One day, before breaking up with the man who first brought him to Dallas, Fox said he was walking his dog in Reverchon Park, and it hit him: “Why isn’t there an arts festival here, in this area? I mean, there’s one in Deep Ellum, the Cottonwood Festival out in Richardson and Main Street over in Fort Worth. But Cedar Springs is gay central, and

Turtle Creek is such a beautiful area. So why isn’t there a show right here?”

Then came the break-up, and plans for staging an arts festival were put on hold for a bit. Then Fox realized he still loved Dallas, and he still wanted to be here, and he still wanted to produce an arts festival in the gayborhood.

Randell-Fox

Festival producer Randall D. Fox.

“This started as an idea for something that we [he and his Dallas boyfriend] could do together. But even though he broke up with me, I still feel like Dallas is calling me,” Fox said. “Every part of the city I have been to I have absolutely loved. The people in Dallas just welcome you everywhere with open arms.”
Producing arts festivals is nothing new for Fox. He’s been doing it about 12 years, he said.

“I was a nurse practitioner, but my former partner was a painter,” he explained. “I love the arts, so we just started building these arts festivals.”

Fox left the medical field behind to create the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces in 2005 to “support the arts community by operating arts and craft events and festivals in the metro Atlanta area.”

According to the organization’s website, AFFPS was formed “to create a way of integrating and encouraging both social interactions and the opportunity for individuals and businesses to obtain cross exposures in marketplaces that they may normally not have.”

Fox said that he decided that Reverchon Park was the perfect site for such a festival after volunteering with the Pride Festival in the Park held there in September. So he started talking with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and has been amazed at how smoothly the process has moved along.

“The parks department people have been more than gracious, saying, ‘Hey, we really want this here.’ A lot of places, you don’t get that kind of welcome. But Dallas has been more than gracious,” he said.

Fox said he decided to limit participants this first time out to “100 of the top local and regional artists,” keeping it relatively small “to give the people in the area a chance to get used to having an arts festival in their neighborhood and so we could get used to working with the city and the people here.”

It didn’t take long to fill those 100 spots: “As soon as we put the call out, we started getting responses. We had triple the number of applications we could accept, and we had to whittle it down, so all of the ones who will be here are exceptional artists.”

The roster includes a number of LGBT artists, Fox said. Painter Matthew Mayes and his partner, Brian, will be here from their home in Birmingham, Ala. Another Alabama artist, painter Gina Krawez will be here, too. Sculptural artist Dakota Pratt of Austin is participating, as is Houston sculptor Harold Seifert. Collaborative duo Michael Zavison and Melanie Rolfes will be here from Atlanta.

“These are my friends, my colleagues and my peers,” Fox said of the artists participating in the festival. “I am so lucky I get to work with them.”

The festival will feature four food trucks — “And we don’t do carnival food; if you are looking for corn dogs and cotton candy, go to the state fair” — and live music. Dogs are allowed, but they have to be on a leash and wearing their tags, Fox said.

But there’s the thing that really sets Turtle Creek Arts Festival apart: “These are all affordable artists!” Fox enthused. “Everyone who comes to the festival will be able to afford to go home with something. We will cover every price point, every craft, every kind of art.

“Mark my words, Turtle Creek Arts Festival will have something for everyone. Everyone can take home a memory.”

Fox also promised that this won’t be a “one-and-done” kind of event. He is already in the process of planning for a spring festival in Turtle Creek and is looking for a different location for yet another arts festival within the coming year.

“I am creating these shows for me, and for you, the people in Dallas,” he said. “I want, when I see you again, for you to say, ‘Hey! I loved your show, and here’s what I got there.’

I want everyone to have a good time.

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Turtle Creek Fine Arts Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11-12, at Reverchon Park, 3505 Maple Ave., from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on leashes and wearing tags. There will be live music and food trucks. Admission is free. Parking in the park is limited; but parking will be available in designated areas in the surrounding neighborhood.