HARWICH — The Harwich Cultural Center will play a major role in the ArtWeek festival that will take place across the state toward the end of the month. The festival seeks to spotlight how the creative economy is thriving in Massachusetts.
That will also be the goal here with the “Harwich is Creative” initiative that has been shaped by the center's program aide, Erica Strzepek.
ArtWeek is a 10-day festival beginning on April 27 and running through May 6. During that period there will be daily demonstrations, performances and exhibits at the center, with an open house on Saturday, April 28. The Harwich Cultural Center was chosen as one of 20 partners invited to participate in ArtWeek on the Road, partnering with the Boch Center, Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar Outdoor Advertising to highlight events taking place in cultural centers across the state using digital billboards on major highways throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Strzepek said an encaustic painting demonstration provided by Robin Litwin has been selected to be advertised on digital billboards along the highways. On Thursday, May 3, local artist and photographer Litwin will be demonstrating some of the basic techniques in encaustic painting which was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the fifth century. There will be materials on hand for participants to get a feel for this unique painting method.
ArtWeek on a statewide basis is presented by Highland Street Foundation and produced by the Boch Center featuring hundreds of unique and creative experiences that are hands-on, interactive and offer behind-the-scenes access to artists or creative process. It was initiated in Boston in 2013 and since then has been expanded to serve communities across the state.
Arts festivals on Cape Cod have often been a way to draw people into communities. ArtsSpring Cape Cod was one of those events, which Strzepek said became part of ArtWeek last year. This year there are 155 towns and neighborhoods participating in the festival across the state.
“The purpose is arts as an economic driver” Strzepek said. “It's exciting and timely. There is an audience looking for these events and we certainly have the space to pull off these events. It will improve cultural tourism.”
“We are thrilled to have organizations like the Harwich Cultural Center participating in ArtWeek this season,” Josiah A. Spaulding, Jr., president of the Boch Center, said in a press release. “ArtWeek is an innovative festival that works to spotlight how the creative economy is thriving in Massachusetts.”
The community center has numerous events planned over the 10-day period, including in-studio demonstrations on Monday through Friday from noon to 2 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. and special events on the weekends (see full schedule).
“It's a great opportunity to get people into the building,” Strzepek said.
Strzepek said a special event is planned over the school vacation week for kids and their families. On Tuesday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be art studio time provided on the second floor of the center for the creation of “I Love Harwich” ArtWeek dioramas.
“It will be a fun-filled event for families to come and build something,” Strzepek said. “It will get families talking about Harwich.”
She said the idea is to use a shoebox, cereal box, issue box, or a box of similar size and construction paper, glue scissors, paints, markers and fabric scraps or similar materials to create a scene depicting what the creator loves most about the town. The center can also use donations of these materials for the event. The dioramas will be on exhibit during ArtWeek, and there will be a presentation of the works on Saturday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m. at the ArtWeek open house.
On Friday, April 27, the center will participate in “Light Up The Night,” a colorful lighting of the face of the former Harwich Middle School with large letters spelling ARTWEEK. It will serve as a promotion for the event and the cultural center, Strzepek said.
Strzepek said many of the artists in the 33 studios in the center will participate in the events during the festival. There will be an art exhibit featuring the work of artists-in-residence in the library on the second floor and the artist studios will also be open to the public. She also said the ArtWeek festival will demonstrate that the cultural center is becoming a much broader venue than just painters working in studios.
The open house on Saturday, April 28 has numerous events, including the opportunity to visit the Harwich Cape Verdean Museum as well as experience a canvas labyrinth walk facilitated by volunteer members of Pilgrim's Landing and learn about how a labyrinth works. There will be performances by The Cape Cod Ukulele Club and Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra and a scrimshaw demonstration by Nancy Lion using fossil ivory.
There will also be the opportunity to talked with members of the Cape Cod Theatre Company, home of he Harwich Junior Theatre, and learn about the summer theater programs coming to the cultural center. Local students will also talk about writing, directing, acting and producing their science-fiction television program “The Jethroverse.”
“It's a great use of the space during this 10-day event,” Strzepek said. “It's another step forward for culture in Harwich.”
ArtWeek has a lot of events that will demonstrate how “Harwich is creative.” That reputation was evident when the town and the local cultural council recently signed an agreement with the Massachusetts Cultural Council to become the first town in the commonwealth to join the Massachusetts Cultural Council's cultural compact pilot program.
Strzepek said all the events for ArtWeek are free and open to the public. A complete listing of ArtWeek events can be found at artweekma.org.