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Each summer at the Niantic Town Hall, the annual two-day long Niantic Arts and Crafts Show plays host to a variety of artists from New England.
Paired with the Niantic Lions' annual Lobsterfest, the show includes sculptors, painters, basket weavers and jewelry makers, to name a few. People are invited to dine on a lobster or chicken dinner and explore the many works of art.
Diana Tyler of Hebron has been selling her watercolors for about 20 of the show's 52 years.
She loves the pairing of the arts and crafts show with the Niantic Lions' dinner. The show is always busy for artists trying to exhibit their pieces to everyone who attends, and Tyler believes that the lobster dinner is a big part of that.
"It's a great combination of a nice show and good food," she said. "The Niantic Lions have a great group of volunteers who help everyone and make it run very smoothly."
She looks forward to attending each year to see some of the friends that she's made during her time with the show and to showcase her unique brand of artwork, which is very specific to the area.
"I go around and look for typical subject matter of Connecticut and New England. I love the Connecticut shoreline. It's really picturesque, and Niantic is a particularly beautiful part of that," said Tyler.
After graduating from Hartford Art School in 1970, Tyler completed her M.S. degree in Art Education at Central Connecticut State University in 1980. She used that degree to teach art at the high school level before establishing Wythe Studios with her mother as a business dedicated to selling their artwork.
Since that time, her mother has passed away, and Wythe Studios is entirely devoted to Diana Tyler's artwork.
Tyler has been exhibiting her work at shows around the New England area since 1984. She is especially fond of selling her paintings to locals at the Niantic show, simply because she enjoys painting the area so much.
"Specific pictures will have more meaning to them," she says. "It gives the work another dimension. For example, someone might look at a painting of mine and say, 'Oh that's the marina where I dock my boat' or 'Oh, that's the place where I got engaged.' It could even just be someplace that they know the scene because they're local. It doesn't have to be a specific."
She makes a point to have one new Niantic-specific painting to exhibit each time she's here. She tells the story of one year when High Street in the Pine Grove section of Niantic caught her eye. Since the show takes place so close to the 4th of July, a lot of people had flags up. As she was working on a preliminary sketch of the street, a woman came running out, recognized Tyler and her work, and quickly rushed to her porch to put up her flag for the picture.
Currently, Tyler is working on a painting from the Golden Spur area of East Lyme. She was surprised to discover that the site was once the location of an amusement park.
"I understand it was quite the hoppin' place at one time," she said.
Tyler will be showcasing that painting as well as her other work at the Niantic show. She mostly sells limited edition prints of her work in order to keep them affordable. She says that people who choose to attend the free show can purchase her work for between $20 and $120.
Niantic Arts and Crafts Show, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun., East Lyme Town Hall, 108 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic; nianticartsandcraftshow.com