This past Saturday morning, I had told my wife that I was headed over to Art in The Park here in Keene. After we had gone out and had coffee together, I headed over. This show has lots of art, is in a beautiful place and I look forward to it each year.
Parking was a little more difficult this year because where we had parked in the past was not available. But it was great other than spending a bit of time finding a space. Beautiful weather, lots of artists and artisans, and what looked to be a “buying crowd.” (It was good to see folks wandering around with paintings and artwork.)
One of the things I love most about shows like this is talking to the people in the booths and learning about “how they got here.”
(Where I was able, I connected the artists to their websites.)
At one of booths near the entrance, I spoke to Kristi Dompier from nearby Spofford who had some beautiful, large landscapes and loon paintings that looked like they were photographs. (I know as I approached the booth, I thought they might be photographs.) Spofford has a beautiful lake and several of her paintings were views, as well as the loon paintings from there.
There were lots of folks as I walked about, and many artists were engaged, and booths were full. It was so great to see people buying from them. And isn’t that what shows are for? (Add in the attraction of the Keene Music Festival just a short distance away, and there was good reason for all the people.)
“A rapid rendering of a landscape represents only one moment of its existence. I prefer, by insisting upon its essential character, to risk losing charm in order to gain greater stability.” — Henri Matisse
Walking down the path, some whimsical pieces caught my eye. Figurines that were fun and serious all at the same time. Some with large bodies, funny–looking heads, and interesting features. Many looked like cartoon characters. These are the type of figurines that cause you to think. The work of Deb Mathews and her friend (Who was creating small origami pieces.) result in these one-of-a-kind pieces if you are looking for that fun piece.
“Art advances between two chasms, which are frivolity and propaganda. On the ridge where the great artist moves forward, every step is an adventure, an extreme risk. In that risk, however, and only there, lies the freedom of art.” — Albert Camus
Leaving their booth, I was drawn by a photo of an old Ford (1941 with some pieces from other years!) that hung on the wall of B. Simmons, a photographer and digital artist. Many of the pieces in his booth were mounted on aluminum or “aluminum sandwiches,” giving them a bit of depth and intrigue. Very cool and very precise.
As I walked by the booth of Tracy Lévesque, some of her paintings just “pulled” me in. The ones I liked were what she would call fairytale realism. The paintings take real landscapes and the botanical, bringing them to life with wonderful color. (Check out the picture of one of her booth walls.)
When we go to an art show, we never know what we will find. And even if we think we do, we often do not. For me, I like to be surprised. When I walked by the booth of Jennifer Vallauri, I saw a couple of flags, created out of wood, with tone and color added by wood burning and paint. She shared how her father (who had passed) had done these and she was carrying on the traditions and adding to that with her own creativity.
I walked out towards the Ashuelot River, passing by some of the fundraising booths run by young people, with food and drink. Nearby, I walked into the booth of Kevin Whitfield. Some cityscapes, a train, and an unusual piece, titled, City of God. One of the things about each piece I saw was the eye to detail.
I love art. My mom “dragged” us to many a museum to see the creations, paintings, and photographs. After my mom’s 30-plus years as an educator, she volunteered as a docent in an art museum. When she passed, many of her pieces were left in museums, historical societies, and galleries. I am drawn to the bright, shiny, whimsical, and serious, and I am always pulled by the “new.”
If there were “one piece” of this show I would like to see more of, it would be doing more related to children. Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
A few years ago, I began to run across more of what is called alcohol inks. So, when I passed the booth, Maggie Cahoon, I took some time to look at the orbs and the circles. I like the dichotomy of the muted and bright in the alcohol inks, as well as the “bubbles” and brokenness that are seen. Check out her statement on the work of the circles.
I was walking by the booth of Wendi Huslander and noticed some of Keene’s architecture in her paintings. (I later kidded her about the picture that had the former Cobblestone before the fire. And I later saw the picture where Fritz’s was near Timoleon’s.) She had some great landscapes, but I really liked the architectural pieces. She had a nice painting of the Gloucester shoreline. There were also a couple of pieces that held some fantasy thinking.
Walking by Karen Fortier’s booth, my mind was drawn to a series of unusual paintings. And when I asked her about the pieces and the background, she told me that she had had double cataracts and that these were paintings before her first eye surgery. Walking around the art racks, I realized that there were paintings on the back! A mini journey of color.
Art is and always will be an individual choice and preference. “Risk is a necessary part of painting. You have to put yourself in harm’s way in order to stretch your competence and continue to learn.” — Thomas M. Nicholas
I visited a booth I spent time with last year. While walking up the wind blew on an 8-foot canvas. (Did I need another incentive to check things out at this booth?) I recognized Shannon Perry and her daughter, Jax, from last year’s show. They both had some beautiful paintings. Shannon paints beautiful botanicals, highlighting the plant and the flowers. Jax had many paintings that reflected life. When I asked her some of the things that changed, she told me she doubled majored in art and neuroscience, graduated college, and had just interviewed in Boston, and getting this employment would allow for both worlds to work together.
As I was readying to leave, I found Chris Bower (Be There Photography), whose photographs he enhances, bring brilliance to his photos from Kenya, Tanzania, Iceland, and Italy. Gorgeous wildlife and stunning landscapes were at the top of my viewing list. A world adventurer, he had stunning photographs.
Art is emotional. It is supposed to be. I do not think it “can’t be.” To look at a painting, a picture, a creation, will trigger something. That something will bring you to some place tied to emotion. That is what pulls people in.
Paul Cezanne said “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.” I don’t know if I agree. I think to create, you must tap into creation. Something must bubble up to percolate as the shape comes forth and the color is placed.
While walking around, I ran into friends, and it allowed me to catch up with them. There was something that brought us together. Welcome to small–town New England! This was a great show. Kudos to the organizers, the artists, and the support of the community.
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