Hello I am Zin and last weekend was the 2012 Portland Sidewalk Art Festival!
Every year, the city closes down the main downtown street on the Saturday a week before Labor Day weekend and artists take over! Some years it is very hot, or rainy, but this year was perfect!
You can see a whole slideshow of photographs of the festival! There are also a lot of slides of cars which was a different festival but somehow the pictures are all together in the same slideshow so you have to zip through some of them! Unless you like cars in which case you will have twice as much fun looking!
Most of the art was of the “pretty art” variety – landscapes, animals, and a lot of Maine scenery which is fine, it is pretty! Not all of the artists are from Maine but I think only Maine people can win the Prizes! I would say all of the four prize winners were of the “pretty art” variety. I do not remember seeing any of the prize winners (there were three hundred artists and I did not even get to some of them) but they all have websites where you can see their work:
Third place went to Heidi Wilde for her Wilde Accents, reverse paintings on glass (“Life captured in a window”)! This is an interesting idea, and requires some planning, and some are done in multiple panes which is clever! I like some of her small-town scenes!
Pamela Jo Ellis won second place with her watercolors.
First Prize was for the Collagraph Prints of Kathleen Buchanan, owner of Grey Seal Press!
The Purchase Prize which puts a piece in the WCSH collection went to Catherine Meeks of Artistic Sisters! She works in an interesting array of media, from Paintings and Illustrations to iPad Digital Finger Paintings (ooooh! An artist who embraces pop technology!) and Polaroid Image Transfers.
I had my own prizes! The Zinnies! Some of them are from Maine, and some are not, but they all seemed a little different to me!
My Oliver Sacks award: I was drawn to the intensely bright colors of Dana Trattner but even more drawn to her story: “The art before you is a celebration of my new visual world.” She has had many eye problems (keratitis, astigmatism, and believe it or not, color blindness!) and each procedure, including corneal transplants, has changed her perception and her art! She gave a seven-minute slide presentation at Pecha Kucha Night (a kind of speed-presentation for artists and designers) in 2010! Not only her use of color but of contrast changed! It is an amazing seven minutes! She speculates: “…I’ve been wondering how different art might be if famous artists had been forced to wear glasses constantly. In the book The World Through Blunted Sight, Patrick Trevor-Roper states that many Impressionists, such as Cezanne, [were] nearsighted and painted without glasses. So I wonder, is it like Thomas Wolfe said in The Painted Word, that art critics started impressionism while the Impressionists were merely drawing what they saw?” I think this is an exciting thought!
My Best Use of the Name of the Artist award: Burrealism is the work of John and Carolyn Burr of Springvale, Maine! They do reverse acrylics, using acrylic sheets instead of glass which is pretty cool! Their subjects are sometimes brightly surreal (floating cubes and spheres in architecture, planet landscapes seen through Grecian columns) but sometimes more traditional and nature-themed.
My Emotional Tug award: I loved the lonely silhouettes of Sus Iserbyt! She is originally from Belgium and now lives in Massachusetts. I am not sure what this elongated style is called (she just calls it silhouettes), but it interests me! Another artist painted in the same style – you can see a couple of examples on Slide 28 of the WCSH slideshow, behind the man wearing the hat) but that artist was not at the booth at the moment I was there so I could not talk to her to see if there is some word for this style (if you know, please tell me!).
Some runners-up for the Zinnies:
Art on a T-shirt: I loved the Wild Woman series of paintings by Peyton Higgison; he also does landscapes, and he and his wife Chaké run the Wilderwoman Country Store in Brunswick ME and sell t-shirts online with some of the Wild Woman designs on them!
Found Materials: Geri Geremia from New York caught my eye with her mixed media pieces using gold leaf and corrugated cardboard and other textures!
Nostalgia: I was charmed by the old-time street-corner jazz portraits of Joel Beckwith from Vermont!
I had a lot of fun at the Festival and thank you to all the artists whose work is so wonderful!