A! Magazine for the Arts

Brian and Marie Bridgeforth are the signature artists of the Virginia Highlands Festival.

Brian and Marie Bridgeforth are the signature artists of the Virginia Highlands Festival.

The Virginia Highlands Festival announces creators of this year's signature art

April 20, 2015

The Virginia Highlands Festival announces this year's signature art and theme for the festival, "Create Your Own Adventure."

Brian and Marie Bridgeforth of Bridgeforth Design Studio in Bristol, Tennessee were chosen last fall as the signature artists because of their fantasy/comic book art style.

The Bridgeforths have participated in youth programs at the festival for the past two years, teaching kids how to draw and express themselves in a graphic medium.

Marie Bridgeforth, originally from Tazewell, moved back to the area with husband Brian in 2011. "Being chosen as the signature artist is a huge honor because this is always the most prestigious show around," said Marie. "Being a juried art show, I know how much it has meant to people to be chosen to sell their work at the Festival. And now our art is representing the entire Festival. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement."

Brian added, "A few years ago we became commercial artists-creating art from others' visions. This project has allowed us to blend the festival's vision of adventure with our own style, and it's awesome. Our work already explores science fiction and fantasy, and the theme this year really caught our imagination."

In addition to the signature art, the Bridgeforths are working with D.R. Blevins on the graphic novel of his book, "A Western Tale." They also hope to be teaching free classes at the Bristol Public Library on how to design using 3D software.

While still in the planning stages, this year's festival promises new adventures and fresh perspectives on some old favorites. Festival President Ben Jennings has encouraged the committee chairmen to look as much to the past as to the future for programming ideas.

"It looks like we'll be able to bring dance back to our performing arts series as well as a tour of historic downtown Abingdon homes," he said. "We want to balance traditional elements with new ways of looking at our art and our community."

"Adventure can happen anywhere, from a long-sought find at the antiques market, to the Channels, to discovering a new band," said Executive Director Becky Caldwell. "There are so many aspects of the annual festival that people overlook, and this year we are working to help people discover those hidden gems."

The festival's signature art is an annual commission, which carries a $1,000 prize for the chosen artist. Local artists are invited for consideration each fall, and the resulting work is used in all festival marketing materials as the image of that year's theme.

More information about the festival may be found at www.VaHighlandsFestival.org.

More information about Bridgeforth Design Studio can be found at www.BridgeforthDesignStudio.com.