Jun 14, 2010

Providence Art Festival

Some lovely displays at the Providence Art Festival

Saturday I spent the afternoon and evening seeking inspiration in Providence. I went to the Providence Art Festival downtown to see artwork and get an idea of how other artisans set up their tent displays. After seeing some great displays, I have a few ideas of what I'd like to do for my Expo display. I was in Providence about 4:30 when the rain and wind were picking up as well, so I got a first hand look at what a stiff breeze will do to a pop up tent. There were some tents that were weighted down with barbells, sandbags and home made weights, and a couple that had no weight but an adventurous artist trying to hold the tent in place. Luckily the wind never got to the point that anyone lost artwork or a limb.

Some tent weights

I also saw some professional looking weights - the one on the left here is a solution I found online which you can make at home, but looks a lot better than cinder blocks. I'll be trying that out today.

Tent weight made of PVC, eyebolt and cement, as well as a purchased one

After looking over display and weight solutions, I went back through the tents to really enjoy the arts and crafts of the participants. There was a diverse group of artisans there, and if I had some lottery winnings on me I would have come home with a lot of pieces. But since I am on a budget, I just picked up a few smaller pieces.

The best part of events like this is meeting the artist behind work that you like. When I saw something that I really liked, I made sure to ask the person attending the booth if they were the artist. I had some wonderful conversation with several people and got to understand their process or their inspiration a bit better.

Katy Meyer spoke with me about how she made her silk scarves and paintings. She had some pieces of her hand-painted silk matted and framed as wall art, which looked fantastic. I love the saturated colors she uses, and the whimsical style of the art, so I might have to check out her online store when I have more money to spend.

Christopher Belleau had beautiful pieces of art glass at the Fest - we discussed the difficulties of porting all the work to his booth, as the artists were not allowed to back a car up and unload on  the spot. With hundreds of pounds of glass, that must have been a feat for him to port everything from the parking area.

Sarah Whitman creates floral hairpieces from hand-dyed silk, inspired by Japanese art. At this point my money was practically jumping out of my pocket at her, so I nabbed a lovely purple hair flower and a card with a heart she created from woven Japanese papers.

Jyll Ethier-Mullen, whom I met at the recycled art show (she and her husband run the West Side Arts gallery) had her paintings at the Fest - wildly imaginative and colorful illustrative work.

Greg Stones had a gorgeous booth (you can see his with the fabric panels at the top of this post) and an awesome selection of small watercolors. His work is quirky, very funny, featuring zombies, sheep and penguins. I was thrilled to go introduce myself to Greg, and let him know I was a fan. I had seen his work years ago, with tiny martian people in his landscapes. At the Pawtucket Armory show last Christmas, my husband and I bought a signed copy of his book Goodbye, Pengiuns which hilariously depicts ten penguins as they vanish, each in a bizarre fashion.

Christine's tent with gorgeous artwork

Christine Wendel Farrugia had the most beautiful charcoal drawings of animals I think I've ever seen. She creates images of the animals from her farm in Connecticut. She was very generous with her time, and we spoke at length about the farm, how she works, and art festivals. I bought some art cards with her work, and added her blog to my Google Reader. Speaking with her really made the day for me, despite the rain (and the crazy 'fro my hair turned into).

After the Art Fest, I spent the rest of the night taking pictures of waterplace park in daylight, and then again during the waterfire. I hope that between the two I will have some decent reference for paintings. The waterfire was challenging as by that point the steady drizzle had turned over to a steady downpour. But with enough lighter fluid, even the damp firewood started to burn. At least the crowds were light! All in all an awesome day.

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