Tomorrow, January 12, when the doors open at 10 a.m., the Celebration of Fine Art will embark on its 23rd annual show!
While the Celebration of Fine Art has morphed over its 23-year history, there is one element that has remained the same – the joyous, energized feeling that comes over each person who sets foot through tent’s front doors. It’s an interesting dynamic that has been there since day one, and one that can’t quite be put into words; it must be experienced firsthand.
It’s the feeling of passion from the artists, the sense of family and community among art lovers, artists and those behind the Celebration, it’s the aesthetics of the one-of-a-kind art pieces being created, and the gallery-like atmosphere, the energy of constant creation, and the buzz of art lovers connecting with the artists. These are all elements that go into the feeling that comes over those who experience the Celebration of Fine Art.
Like all great things, this too started as a vision by two passionate people – Tom and Ann Morrow – who wanted to give art lovers an alternative way to experience art and interact with the artists creating it. In 1990 they brought their vision to life with the Celebration of Fine Art, a then eight-week show.
That first year, saw an overwhelming turnout by supporters, art lovers and artists from throughout the community and country. It was, and still is, an unrivaled experience – part gallery, part working studio, and part art show.
Today that passion is carried on by Susan Morrow Potje, Tom’s daughter, and her husband Jake
“Jake and I have always been involved in the business in some capacity,” Susan said. “I remember the first year of the show, helping put plants in the planters and other last-minute tasks that always need to be done in the rush before opening day. Jake, from day one, has created the wall installations for the tent, and about 15 years ago he took over the entire tent set up.”
Over the years the couples’ involvement grew, to the point where in 2000 Susan had to manage the entire permitting process when they moved the show to its north Scottsdale location.
“It was at that point I knew I was completely committed to the business and the longevity of it,” she said.
The husband-and-wife team began setting their sites on transitioning into the business. Around that time however, Susan was diagnosed with cancer. Though this set the transition back, it also further instilled their commitment to the Celebration.
“By the time I finished my two years of treatment, I knew this was our future,” she said. “While I was going through treatments, it gave me purpose to strive to get healthy again. I had people who were counting on me, and I knew I needed to get better. I just knew that these people needed me and cared for me. They were like my family. Oddly enough, from my room during my stay at the Mayo Clinic, I could see the tent.”
After her health return, Susan and Jake hit the ground running, and haven’t turned back since. Susan has been able to take her passion for people – helping them excel and creating a joyful environment – and apply it to the show.
“I want people to feel like this is something they want to be a part of,” she said. “Someone once wrote in our guest book once, ‘The Celebration, not Disneyland, is the happiest place on earth.’ That’s really my passion – to create a joyful experience for people. If our growth is any indication of the success of that, I think we are achieving it each year.”
For more on the history of the Celebration of Fine Art, click here.