Where it (was) at

Artists Alley: A splash of the creative

Wed, 07/10/2024 - 7:45am

    The breeze was as strong as the sun during 2024’s Windjammer Days’ Artists Alley down to Whale Park June 27 and 28. Coordinating this event the past two years, is Friends of Windjammer Days member Mary Wawro.

    And what a great lineup of artisans she brought to the Park:  Calli B (jewelry), Chris Cambridge (scrimshaw), Stephanie Crossman (handmade fish netting sculpture and paintings), Eric Darling (oil and up-cycled rope paintings), Dianne Horton (watercolors), Laura Kowacki (jewelry), Susan Lipman (glass chimes and jewelry), Natalie Reed (fine jewelry), Ann Schaefer (basketry), Nancy Shaul (pottery), Herenya Wilkey (stained glass), Courtney Hutchings (jewelry), Sari Rae (Weiss) – (silver jewelry), George Mattingly (paintings) and Morgan Bredeau (jewelry).

    Plein air / live demo artist coordinator and jewelry maker Janet Brennan brought the following talented individuals to Whale Park: Artists Olena Babak, Rick Reinert, John Seitzer, Charlotte Thibault, Laureen Hylka, Leonard Miserek, and Anthony Watkins.

    I stopped by to speak to some of the creatives that Friday, like Charlotte Thibault (www.charlottethibault.com) who said she’d wanted to be an artist from a young age – “Before I knew if I had any talent (chuckles), I did have the desire and determination. You just keep practicing. Sometimes you surprise yourself … sometimes with unfortunate surprises but …”

    Before committing to art full time, Charlotte had been in the newspaper biz for 31 years as a graphic journalist and illustrator for the Concord Monitor. She finally quit the paper biz in 2016 and committed herself wholly to her art. Charlotte, as it turned out, is a longtime friend of Janet Brennan’s and has stayed with Jan while she was here.

    Charlotte possessed all of the traits of a free spirit: intuitive, open to possibilities, followed her heart, and listened to her soul – plus she has a great sense of humor! Her oil paintings invite you to visit Maine and New Hampshire on her canvases. The images of coast and mountain, river and forest, garden and field, Charlotte shares are imbued with her energy.

    “What isn’t there to love about the coast?” she asked with a brief sweeping gesture toward the boat-filled harbor. “Boothbay Harbor is one of my favortite places to paint – and around NH where I live ... The Contoocook River runs in front of my house – it’s so beautiful there.”

    Charlotte and I said goodbye so she could finish packing up to head home. I decided to visit with a stained glass artist from Wiscasset, Herenya Wilkey and her husband Will Laliberte. Herenya began working with stained glass in 2022. “I always thought stained glass art was really beautiful. I went to some classes at Topsham Merrymeeting Adult Ed – making mosaics,” Herenya said. “And I’ve been making art with it ever since. Right now my studio is in our basement.” She’d worked with other media in the past (https://herenyawilkey.com), but her stained glass pieces were quite lovely. Landscapes, particularly “Pemaquid Pond” for me; birds, boats, animals, buoys. and my favorites – a triskele in greens, blue, purple … I still want to get that one! I saw a photo of her booth during Bath Heritage Days and the triskele was still there … and Herenya also had a few triquetras. Visit her website and Facebook page to find out where she’ll be next.

    Olena Babak, originally from Ukraine, but longtime resident of Hartland, was back for the event after a three-year absence. “Jan wouldn’t take no for an answer this year,” Olena said laughing. I asked if she’d always wanted to be an artist. I told her I was asking because most times when I ask someone if they remembered how old they were when they knew they wanted to be, fill in the blank, the age is always 10 or 11.

    “When I was a child, maybe about that old, I decided if I can’t be a scientist I wanted to be an artist,” Olena said. “I found a way to take art in high school in Ukraine.”

    “When you paint you are watching ‘the dance,’ and that makes you part of the dance,” she said as she painted a local schooners that was moving in a half circle, back and forth. “I place myself near the water of moving objects, like people or ships. There are a lot of challenges getting the dance on canvas.”

    I thought she was doing an excellent job and took a photo behind her looking out to the schooner. Olena also preferred to work in oil as well.

    Laura Kowacki of Lone Pine Design’s been making jewelry for 22 years. The impetus? She was always losing her earrings and decided to make her own – you have all the parts you need that way! “I’m not drawn to a particular kind of crystal, it’s more about the shape and colors I can see in them or stone.”

    Her jewelry has a fabulous earthy rather than flashy quality, some pieces more than others, really. Gorgeous necklaces and stone bracelets … But what impressed me most about Laura was this: she donates all of her profits (minus cost for materials and travel) to organizations working to end child trafficking. Before we could continue our conversation a group of shoppers came by – I hope she returns next year so we can talk again.

    I ran into Lindy Bragg shopping at Calli B’s for her very popular, decades old clothing boutique, Calypso. “I’ve been buying jewelry from Marianne (Janik – owner) for years. Her jewelry is gorgeous.”

    Then, as I was making my way out of the Park, Sari Rae’s silver jewelry caught my eye. Sari had worked for Tony Heyl at A Silver Lining as a teen and learned a lot about jewelry making and sodering from him. The rest of her skills have been honed on her own. Sari uses sea glass, rocks, stones, pearls … all set in recycled gold or silver. Speaking of that silver … I couldn’t help admiring the silver ring she was wearing, with one small circular gold circle and lines, or rays, shooting forth from it in all directions.

    Sari calls it the Solstice Ring – all 20 or so of them she made just a week before Artists Alley – on the Summer Solstice, June 20. I just had to have one. So I splurged. It’s gorgeous.

    Everything at Artists Alley is just that – gorgeous. If you’ve never been, don’t miss next year’s event: the 63rd Boothbay Harbor Windjammer Days sails in June 22-28.