Art In The Park Brings In A Third Of Shark Auctions

By: Tim Wood

Artist Chelsie Starace with her piece for the Creative Arts Center, which brought in the highest bid in this year's Art in the Park auction. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – The Chatham Merchants Association's Art in the Park exhibit ended last Friday, and while the auction of the painted and decorated Cape Cod and mermaid silhouettes did not bring in as much as Sharks in the Park did in previous years, the organizer are pleased with the final tally.

“I think we did great, we really did well,” commented Susan Dimm, president of the merchants group.

Online bids for the 44 objets d'art totaled $18,410. That's about a third of the amount realized in each of the past few years when Sharks in the Park were auctioned.

“We knew it was going to be less,” Dimm said. There were fewer pieces this year, and “sharks are popular,” she added. Half of the proceeds go to the artists who created each piece, with the other half serving as seed money for events sponsored by the merchants association throughout the year. “We budgeted knowing we'd make less money,” she said.

Other factors that may have contributed to the lower total this year include the tornado, which destroyed one piece. Much of the display in Kate Gould Park was covered in tree branches for three days after the storm. And the past few years for at least part of the summer the display was on the front lawn of the Eldredge Public Library, which Dimm said is more visible than the park location.

The good news is that unlike in years past, there were no attempts to steal any of the pieces.

“We finally got the security down pat,” Dimm said. “Now we just have to tornado proof them.”

The four pieces that had the highest bids were the Creative Arts Center’s, a ceramic-covered Cape Cod by artist Chelsie Starace, which went for $1,210; Gustare Oils and Vinegars’ Cape Cod piece by Jeanne Tassinari, which fetched $1,100; artist Tilda McGee Bystrom's Chatham Anglers piece for Cape Cod Five brought in $1,050; and Mahi Gold's Cape Cod silhouette painted by  Lauren DiFerdinando was sold for $950.

Last year's top shark brought in $5,000, with nine fetching more than $2,000. The total of last year's auction was $72,000.

Dimm said the merchants will continue the art exhibit next summer and will vote on the shape over the winter. “Whales came in very close this year,” she noted, adding that the only thing she knows for sure is that it won't be sharks, since town officials have made it clear they don't want the predators to be part of the town's marketing efforts.