Explore the art world this Columbus Day

"Western Sky"; acrylic on linen, by Rosemary Cotnoir of Essex
"Western Sky"; acrylic on linen, by Rosemary Cotnoir of Essex Submitted photo

This Columbus Day Weekend, make like the holiday's namesake and set about exploring your own corner of the world. If that sounds cumbersome, consider what the non-profit Arts Center Killingworth (ACK) is offering on Oct. 6 and 7: An outdoor festival on the Madison Green featuring 70 artists, and the chance to visit eight art studios scattered across the shoreline.

According to ACK Artistic Director Barbara Nair, this year's two-day event builds upon those of years past.

"The reach of the festival is really growing, and so is the quality of the work each year. This year we have artists from New York to Hartford, Naugatuck, Fairfield, Colchester, Middletown, etc., etc. It's wonderful to see."

Nair recommends visitors start their explorations on the green at the Outdoor Arts Festival. There, they'll find "dozens of artists who are exhibiting and selling their work in a variety of mediums."

The "wide range of artists...includes representational and modern painters, sculptors, photographers, potters and ceramicists, jewelry designers, as well as artisans working with glass, mixed media collage, fabric and printmaking."

Nair says the atmosphere on the green-which, with its historic buildings, she notes is "itself a destination"-will be "festive" and "enriched with live music and a variety of gourmet food options."

Festival-goers on the green can pick up an Open Studio Trail Map "to help guide the way for an art and fall foliage journey through the shoreline," adds Nair.

Artists on the trail this year include landscape and realist painters Karen Killian and Judy Perry, modern painter Karen Bartone, photographer George Fellner, potters Wendy Roth and John Hull, fashion designer Astrid Niemelaeinen, fused glass jewelery designer Mary Vetel, and yarn spinner Patricia Fortinsky. Their studios can be found in Centerbrook, Clinton, East Haddam, East Lyme, Haddam, Killingworth, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Waterford.

Nair says the entire weekend is a boon for all involved-an opportunity for artists to gain exposure and appreciation; a learning experience for visitors, including young people, for whom she says the event is "a great way to introduce (them) to the arts"; and a concrete example of ACK's mission.

"The Open Art Studios and the Outdoor Arts Festival offer the public and artists a direct way to connect-watching artists work, asking questions, and collecting fine art and high-end crafts," she says. "For artists, their work is revealed to hundreds of new people who can potentially become buyers, as well as the opportunity to meet and interact with other participating artists. And, of course, let's not forget just enjoying a beautiful fall weekend on the shoreline."

Pottery by Wendy Roth of Niantic
Pottery by Wendy Roth of Niantic Submitted photo

IF YOU GO

What: Outdoor Arts Festival and Open Art Studio Trail

When: Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 7. The festival is open on Oct. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Oct. 7 from noon to 6 p.m. Art studios are open on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Info: For more information, including an online gallery of participating artists' works, visit www.artscenterkillingworth.org and click on "Artist Gallery."

Cost: The entire weekend is free and open to the public.

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