An exhibit of Paul's work will be at 125 High St.,
Art is the draw in Cohasset
Food, music also attract big crowds
Festival-goers come for the traditions - a favorite vendor, a lobster roll sandwich or fried dough treat, music by a regional bluegrass band - but they stay for the art, say the organizers of the annual South Shore Art Center Arts Festival.
Drawing big crowds every year, the three-day festival on the Cohasset Common features art exhibitions, craft artists offering handmade jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and photography, music, arts and craft demonstrations, a kids’ tent, and favorite foods.
But you can come expecting the familiar and be startled by a close encounter with a high-quality work of art, the organizers say.
“That’s the kind of thing I love for people to discover,’’ said Diane Kennedy, assistant director of the South Shore Art Center, the festival’s parent organization. “They walk in thinking to buy some item, and - ‘Oh, my gosh!’ - they discover work at that level.’’
At the festival’s heart are two large shows, about 200 pieces in each: a juried show open to all artists, and a show for the art center’s members. The center, which offers classes for both adults and children and mounts shows year-round in its Cohasset home, has about 1,000 members.
Those taking classes at the center look forward all year to the event. “They wait to find the right piece,’’ Kennedy said. “They get it framed and show it off. It’s a big selling day.’’
The juried show draws entries from all of the South Shore and Greater Boston. Best in show this year was awarded to Vcevy Strekalovsky of Hingham, who is also one of the festival’s attractions. Strekalovsky will demonstrate his technique by executing a “plein-air’’ painting outdoors at the festival, and respond to questions while he works.
“He’s so engaging,’’ Kennedy said, “with people watching, talking. He’s a fast painter and a very skilled one.’’
Last year Strekalovsky painted a view of the Cohasset green looking toward its two picturesque churches. Titled “Arts Festival 2008,’’ it’s on view at the art center as part of a silent auction. His best-in-show painting is “Burditt Lane,’’ of hometown Hingham.
Well-known watercolorist Becky Haletky of Pembroke will also demonstrate at the festival. Haletky, who has a studio overlooking a pond in Pembroke, speaks on her website of “the rush of excitement I feel when sitting down to a blank piece of paper, and then turning it into a work of art that only I can create.’’
That’s the kind of engagement the festival celebrates, Kennedy said. “We invite everyone to discover the artist in themselves.’’
With the help of two new regional sponsors (Lemon Lime Aveda salon and Yachting Dog), this year the kids’ tent will offer children the opportunity for hands-on creativity in drawing, painting, and working with clay - skills offered by the art center. Another new activity is a little more off the beaten track: hair braiding.
The center’s own tent will focus on examples of Chinese brush painting by Qingxioang Ma, who teaches a weekly class at the South Shore Art Center. The tent will also showcase the work of some of Ma’s students. Scholarship help is available for students interested in studying traditional Chinese brush or Japanese brush painting (known as sumi-e).
The arts festival’s own traditions include the regional bluegrass band Sue Rocha Trio on Saturday at 2 p.m. and American Irish music of The O’Reillys at 1 p.m. Sunday.
On the common, music is also provided by the Cohasset Middle and High School Jazz Ensemble at 5 p.m. Friday; by the Rusty Skippers at 12:30 p.m. and the Satuit Band at 4 p.m. on Saturday; and by the Nat Seelen Jazz band at noon and the South Shore Bay Band (a regional wind ensemble) at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Events taking place at the art center, at 119 Ripley Road, include a chance to visit a printmakers’ studio and a silent auction.
And as for those favorite festival foods - lobster roll at the neighboring First Parish Church and strawberry shortcake at the Second Congregational Church - remain on the menu. Fried dough, as well.
“One person told me, ‘This is the only time all year I have fried dough,’ ’’ Kennedy said.
Robert Knox can be reached at email@example.com.