The sky was overcast on Friday July 2nd. It was a sudden change of weather, New England style, due to the sweltering heat that marked most of the Windjammer Days festivities. However, the overcast day did not prevent buyers from attending the annual Artists’ Alley.
The exhibit featured 12 artists from across New England, live art demonstrations by John Seitzer and Tony van Hasselt, a silent auction and raffle.
The Artists’ Alley was started by the late Jim Taliana as part of the 50th Windjammer Days Festival in 2012 and has been run by volunteers since his death later that year. Artists’ Alley president Catherine Tracy explained that event planning was difficult due to evolving COVID-19 regulations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). She praised the open communication between Friends of the Windjammer Days and the vendors.
“Everyone has been so flexible. The vendors were very excited to have this event as they generally do very well year after year. I was a little nervous at first, but there you go, and everyone’s making money and having fun, said Tracy.
The sellers also expressed their enthusiasm. Janet Brennan, former event planner and owner of “Collage Jewels,” and Nancy Shaul of Westport Island Pottery are event veterans. They stressed the importance of supporting local artists who make a living from their work. Moreover, the event also allows them to share their respective artistic passions with others.
Saul likes how more personal the outdoor markets are. She explained, “I love the retail business. I like to see who decides they want to have a piece of mine, and what happens to the items that people really make personally.
This sense of connection is personified by the live demos of Seitzer and van Hasselt in the middle of the festival. The artists invite viewers to watch and interact by creating abstract pieces and picturesque landscapes of Maine. Seitzer has been doing live demos for two decades, almost as long as he’s been in the state. He enjoys reusing canvases to add color, texture or abstract elements to his paintings, which attracts the attention of viewers. These interruptions help his artistic approach.
“Sometimes I get too involved in what I’m doing and don’t take the time to step back or assess. So having interruptions forces me to watch what I’m doing. I like going out here, meeting people and seeing them ask questions. It pushes me to do what I do.
Besides the familiar faces, the show also hosted Sari Weiss (Sari Rae) and Morgan Mitchell of Morgan Mitchell Designs, from the Boothbay area.
Weiss majored in business in college, but never thought she would run hers. However, after a few years of working in a company, she decided to return to her passion for jewelry making. Sadly, the pandemic didn’t strike until a few weeks after Weiss bought a studio, but she believes the experience has helped her be more “adaptable” as a small business owner.
“I was just excited to come back here and it’s just amazing to see all the locals who came out to support (Mitchell and I), the girls in the area,” Weiss said.
Mitchell was grateful for the support she received from her family and the community. Mitchell, like Weiss, believes some bright spots have come from the pandemic. She believes there will be a post-COVID “art renaissance” because people have more time to pursue their artistic passions and will use those skills to help heal.
“I think there is a real need for people to have an authentic connection again and to connect for something other than work. I think art is at the heart of this kind of healing and transition, ”Mitchell said. “We need things that are not linear, and we need things that are based on craftsmanship and emotion to help us heal and move forward.”
Other featured artists included Alan Claude, graphic artist; Anne Gobes, Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm; Chris Cambridge, The Scrimshaw Workshop; Derek Keenan, Hill & Shore Joinery; Diane Horton Fine Arts; Marianne Janik, Cali b .; Sharon Goldhirsch, Crow Point Herbal; and Susan Thiboult, The Chestnut Quilt.