Chatham's Festival Of The Arts: A Rite Of Summer

By: Debra Lawless

The 48th Festival of the Arts will be held in Chase Park in Chatham this weekend.  FILE PHOTO

One of the best things about the Festival of the Arts presented by the Creative Arts Center (CAC) in Chatham, now in its 48th year, is that you can rely on finding both the things you loved at past fairs and something new among the 120 fine artisans and craftsmen.
“It’s a nice mix of the familiar and the new,” says Angela Zoni Mault, the CAC’s executive director.
The popular fair will run this summer from Friday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Aug 18 in Chase Park.
“It’s a rite of summer,” Mault says. “People come through the gates and say, ‘I’ve been to every festival of the arts that’s ever been.’”
The juried festival will present original handcrafted artwork, jewelry, fabric, pottery, fashion, wood, glass, metalwork and more. The festival draws an estimated 10,000 collectors and browsers from on and off the Cape.
To help you make a day of it, three gourmet food trucks will sell their specialties at the fair. Ice cream will be available. A Children’s Art Corner with face painting and craft activities “makes it family friendly,” Mault says. While the festival site is a quick walk from Main Street, two shuttle buses will run continuously from the CAC and the community center to the park. There is plenty of free parking at the CAC and next door at the Chatham Drama Guild and also at the community center.
This year the fair has new banners that are now white. “We’ve put a fresh look on everything,” Mault says. This is also the CAC’s 50th year. And if you park at the CAC, you can drop in and see the show “All Work Square” which will be on display in the gallery through Aug. 29.
Running the fair takes between 80 and 100 “boots on the ground” volunteers who park cars, greet visitors, do face painting and work behind the scenes, Mault says. The CAC’s staff works on the fair throughout the year and accepts applications in January. The jury makes its selections by April 15.
Here is a look at a few of this year’s exhibitors:
John and Elizabeth Best of E.J. Best Studios in Wellfleet have been exhibiting with the festival almost from the beginning, in 1971. Elizabeth is a jeweler and graphic artist creating jewelry mainly in sterling and art glass. John is an artist in stained glass.
In contrast, this will be the first festival for Marilyn Adams of Truro, who used to own Orleans Camera. Adams now runs Cape Cod Paper Bead Company where she creates unique handmade jewelry. She makes some beads from handmade, hand-painted paper while she makes other beads from discarded packaging such as cereal and tissue boxes, music scores and more. She hand-rolls each bead and then strings it before dipping it ten times in her special “sauce” which seals and preserves the bead. From the beads come the jewelry that she designs.
“I am very excited to be exhibiting in Chatham,” Adams says. “This show has always had a good ‘buzz’ and a great reputation for the quality of its exhibitors. I was very pleased to be accepted. I look forward to showing my unique twist on ultimate recycling with my paper bead jewelry.”
Martha Nunez and her daughter Mercy Reed of Chatham run Lucia Moon Designs and are long-time participants in the show.
“The Festival of the Arts is our favorite show of the season,” says the mother/daughter team in an email. “We are honored to be accepted to show our work among such accomplished and talented artisans from across the country each year.”
Nunez, a fisherwoman, has worked in the fishing industry for over 40 years, running a commercial quahog dragger in Nantucket Sound. She has collected conch, abalone, giant clam and great green turban shells in waters extending from the Caribbean Sea to the Indian Ocean. She carves these shells to make what she calls the “largest, most sought-after shell beads in the world.”
Katie McConnell of Wild Bunch Studio in Chatham creates metal works such as weathervanes and hanging ornaments. She loves this festival for three reasons, she says: “My participation helps to support my community’s art center; it showcases a wide spectrum of creativity through handmade crafts and fine arts; and it provides the artisans an opportunity to create as their livelihood.”
On her website, McConnell writes, “I design to create happiness—products that evoke a smile.” Her weathervanes come in the shape of mermaids, lighthouses, whales and schooners.
Faye Anderson, who grew up in Chatham, runs the Funktional Steel Art Studio where she manipulates sheets of steel by cutting, bending, welding, hammering and/or heating the material into sculptures. Then, using a torch as a paint brush, she recreates her paper drawings on the steel. She creates tropical fish and whales’ tales as well as fireplace screens.
The 48th Festival of the Arts runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday in Chase Park. The shuttle bus run by Cape Destinations can be caught at the Creative Arts Center at 154 Crowell Rd. and the community center at 702 Main St. For more information call 508-945-3583.