Crowds flock to Mystic Outdoor Art Festival
Mystic ― A baseball cap-wearing crowd toting Del’s Lemonade cups and accompanied by panting dogs meandered Saturday near the drawbridge and toward Mystic Seaport Museum.
Although the people, glistening water and docked boats were scenes in themselves, the crowd instead had come to see the works displayed at the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival.
The festival, in its 65th year, hosted artists who dyed fabric with silk screening, painted hydrangeas with pallets of blue and purple and sat under umbrellas next to their displays to shield them from the sun. Each artist chose one piece to be judged by a board selected by the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, which runs the event.
A picture formed from puzzle pieces of a “Pool Party“ was the one New London artist Meredith Maher selected for judging. Maher creates images of pools, women daydreaming and gardens out of small puzzle pieces that represent something larger to her, she said.
“In life, you are dealt cards and given pieces that don’t make sense, Maher said. ”But you have to make something beautiful out of them.“
Out of Maher’s 200 thrift store bought puzzles, pieces from a Vincent Van Gogh “Cypresses” puzzle are most inspiring to integrate into her own art, she said.
“Bits and pieces” from Maher’s childhood memories -- such as almost drowning in a pool at 6 years old ---also inspire her.
“It was actually beautiful. A lot of people say that those moments where you’re underwater look beautiful,” she said of her near-drowning experience while referring to the inspired bright blue piece called “Underwater.”
Also inspired by water and marshes, married artists Dennis Stuart and Carolyn Currie went camping along the East Coast to paint together in the early years of their marriage. Their camper became their studio, Currie said, describing how she painted clouds above the marshes while her husband painted the birds within them.
The couple, having driven from New Milford for the festival, displayed their pieces in side-by-side tents, Stuart said.
“We can encourage each other, and he helps me a lot,” Currie said about painting with her husband for about 35 years. “It’s because we both love to paint. And the clouds give such a mood, they determine the light we receive.”
On a sunny day with a few small clouds last week, New London artist Katie Fogg brought a cart full of neon paints and other supplies to a spot outside of Mystic’s Sift Bakery to begin the painting she had on display for the festival.
Although Fogg notices Mystic usually has hues of blue, she used neon reds and pinks to “peek through” her painting of the bakery. As a perspective colorist, Fogg looks “beyond the eye” and chooses colors that capture the “pure essence” of whatever she’s painting, she said.
Whether she is painting near Mystic’s drawbridge or near the “staggered buildings” of a city like New London, Fogg has kept her art playful throughout her 13 years in this career, she said.
“The main thing is play,” Fogg said. “I try to be as playful as possible, and that’s why I start with really bold colors and brush strokes so it really comes through.”
Upon seeing the bright colors of the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival and Maher’s puzzle piece creations, friends Donna Shaw and Kimberly Caruso-Poly were inspired to travel back home to Enfield to create art themselves.
“It’s so inspiring to see something like this, so we’ll go home and paint,” Shaw said with a laugh while walking back into the crowds weaving in and out of art tents.
All of the tents, along with the art displayed in them, will be in Mystic again today for the final day of the festival.
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