The Marion Art Center’s 11th Annual Arts In the Park juried art festival is an opportunity for the public to witness the glory of human artistic expression. From pottery to painting, from photography to wearable art, the offerings were, in a word, magnificent.
The brutal heat on July 6 did nothing to hamper the overall beauty of this fundraiser. Each of the more than 40 booth spaces lining the perimeter of Marion’s Bicentennial Park like a diamond necklace were nothing short of mini art studios.
Many of the artists have returned year after year, finding the venue to be the perfect platform to share their work with those who are seeking expertly-created handmade goods or a piece of wall art to grace their home. Whatever the case may be, this festival had quality and variety to spare.
There were many traditional themes such as Nantucket Baskets crafted by Bill Judd. The classic New England form of weaving wooden strips into small baskets, clutches, and purses is as popular today as when the craft first began over 150 years ago by crewmen who manned lightships off the coast of Nantucket.
Among the artisans displaying their creations was Karen Zaharee of Dartmouth whose glazing techniques were luminous.
Several potters’ booths featured bowls and vessels, each uniquely their own as seen in objects under the canopy of Liz Fieldsteel. Her pieces are what she calls “hand-built.”
One might not normally expect to find soaps at an art festival, except when those soaps are small artistic creations like the ones crafted by Jennifer Hofmann. The luscious fragrances emitting from her booth certainly lent a “come pamper yourself” vibe to the event.
James Gallagher’s hand carved folk art fish were not the ones that got away. These whimsical pieces were intended to lend “a less serious side of the fishing world” to any dining table or sideboard.
Photography as an art form has continuously evolved since the technology was invented. And those evolutionary paths were wonderfully executed by several photographers, including Doug Hockman, whose scenes taken from the natural world were gentle voyages.
Lauren Zaknoun’s photographic compositions of surreal images evoke questions, inspire debate, and certainly share with her audience a cutting-edge take on how imagery transforms thought.
Paul Nguyen, the 2017 Artist in Residence at the Petrified Forest in Arizona, brought his talent for capturing raw nature in its purest forms to the Marion festival. Nguyen has also been commissioned by the Boston Museum of Science where his images may be viewed in the Yawkey Gallery.
If it was a lovely new piece of wearable art one was looking for, those were available in abundance. But these were no simple pieces of beads on strings – these were pieces of art to adorn the body.
Donna Andrews-Maness’ molten glass creations were a feast for anyone seeking a one-of-a-kind necklace or bracelet. Each piece shined and captured the light in stimulating colors.
Accessories from jewelry to purses could be found at the tables holding Lisa Mackey’s designs. Use of leather, mother of pearl, and metals, combined to create statement pieces for any fashion forward maven.
Bringing his nautical themes to jewelry was Cesar Palma with pieces that seemed to tell the story of sailing through the use of nautical flag symbols in inlaid stones and shells in silver.
And the exhibits were all museum quality, including custom furniture where hands, not machines, produced warm inviting pieces as found in the booth of Floating Stone Woodworks or the Shade Tree’s hardwood trays and cutting boards, proving that utility need not be boring.
Punctuating any summer art festival must be the breezy paintings inspired by birds and the ocean. Those could be found in Annie Wildey and Holly Wach’s booth, as well as those created by Charlene Mackiewicz.
Well-known local artist and instructor Sarah Brown displayed one of her many talents through the creation of fanciful painted children’s furniture ready to grace any small child’s bedroom.
Adding to the festivities was a raffle at the closing of the event where lucky winners took home a donated piece from one of the many hundreds on display. Also lending an extra layer of fun was the New Bedford Museum of Art traveling art mobile which gave the children an opportunity to express their artistic inclinations while parents browsed the pop-up art show.
To see a full list of all the artists and their medium visit www.marionartcenter.org.
By Marilou Newell