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Mystic — The 56th Mystic Outdoor Art Festival kicked off today with white tents dotting the village on both sides of the Mystic River and a steady stream of visitors buying art or at least browsing on a beautiful summer day.
"I've never seen this much traffic this early — it harkens back to the '80s," said Donna Williston, owner of the Finer Line Gallery on Main Street, about an hour after the festival's 10 a.m. opening. "It's not the cars; it's the people on the streets, and they're buying."
Strolling down Cottrell Street, Linda Morison, 58, who recalls attending the festival ever since she was in first grade, said she was more interested in looking than buying. But she wouldn't miss the festival on such a beautiful day and said she is glad it's smaller and less spread out than it was a few years ago.
"We really love it here still," she said.
Along streets meandering from Water to Main to Cottrell to Holmes to Willow to Church, more than 250 artists featured displays running the gamut from fine watercolors to homemade jewelry. Penguins and zombies, ducks and cherries and wine caddies and objets d'art stood side by side.
One interesting display featured aerial kite photography by Evan Reinheimer, who is displaying his work for the third year in a row. Reinheimer uses a lightweight camera and is able to frame his photographs using a wireless video transmitter and a small motor to control the angle of the shot.
"I thought I invented the idea," he says. "But I did some research and found it was actually first done 150 years ago."
Still, says Reinheimer, there are only a few photographers in the country employing the technique. Some of his most striking photographs on display include unique vantage points of Yankee Stadium, Mont Saint-Michel in France and Whitehaven Beach in Australia.
"What I focus on is that area between standing on the ground and an aircraft," he says.
Reinheimer says flying a kite in a city can sometimes cause questions, but when he explains his photography to police they usually don't make him stop. The images are arresting enough, however, to make many festival goers ask questions.
"This is one of my above-average shows for the year," he says.
Best In Show: Stephen L. Previte
Robert Brackman Award: Paul S. Marra
Beonne Beronda Award: Angela Hill
Marion Tetlow Award: Marion Kyff Dodd
Milton Baline Award: Robin Frisella
Teddy Goberis Award for Excellence in Ceramics: Austin Zimmer
Louise Forest Gibson Prize — Jewelry: John Mroczek
Mabel Kingsbury Fentress Prize — Wood: Thomas Denton
Joseph Gualtieri Prize — Textile: Lucille Scelfo
First place: Frank Gee
Second place: John Mansueto
Third place: Del-Bourree Bach
Honorable mention: Michael Dziomba
First place: Marian L. O'Connell
Second place: Leo P. Donahue
Third place: Linda Mahoney
First place: John Cheng
Second place: Teri Oja
Third place: Stephanie Nadolski
First place: Harry Jarman
Second place: Jihong Shi
Third place: Bao Ke
Honorable mention: Joseph Grieco
First place: Brent Bailer
Second place: Jennifer Gardner
Third place: Roxanne Chardon
First place: Leo Charrette
Second place: Evan Reinheimer
Third place: John Tunney
Honorable mention: Nelson Holt
First place: Faye Anderson
Second place: Peter Bowe
Third place: Hana Vitek
First place: Eugene B. Smith
Second place: Rosalind Oesterle
Third place: Tracy Lizotte
First place: Douglas Wood
Second place: Gabriel Cole
Third place: Joanna Case & Les Olin