By Newlin Tillotson
North Kingstown, RI – Wickford Harbor in North Kingstown, R.I. welcomed more than 200 artists July 13 and 14 for the 51st Annual Wickford Art Festival. Booths lined the streets of the historic village exhibiting work by artists across New England and some neighboring states including New York and Pennsylvania.
The festival gave art lovers the opportunity to interact with different artists who specialized in a range of mediums including pottery, sculpture, watercolors and oil paints. While a lot of the art had marine influence, there was also a selection of abstract and urban-inspired artwork.
Abstract artist Susan Petree from Newport, R.I., exhibited her multi-layered acrylic paintings. The colors were vivid, mixing reds with turquoise or orange and cerulean blue with some paintings featuring seven to ten layers. Petree, who had worked as a banker for more than 30 years, made the transition into painting only a year and a half ago.
“I was working in banking and I eventually thought to myself, ‘There’s got to be something more in life than this.’” Petree said. “I took one class and have been painting ever since.”
The festival offers artists with any art background the opportunity to showcase his or her work at a booth for the weekend.
April Quast from Glastonbury, Conn., uses her dance background as an inspiration for her paintings. As a yoga instructor and West Coast swing dancer, she takes the movements from the two and extends them with paint.
“Some of my paintings are very abstract and others are much more of a tie back into the figure,” Quast said.
The use of unconventional mediums was also abundant. Teri Oja from Enda, Penn., works with thread and creates landscapes with freeform embroidery. The “thread paintings,” as she calls them, are impressionistic and are created entirely from her own vision.
“I see what the work will look like in my head before I sit down and create them,” Oja said. “I will take pictures of a tree or something I like when I am traveling and I will incorporate it, but the work is not of a real place.”
Oja worked with watercolors for many years before getting into thread paintings, though she has practiced embroidery ever since she was a little girl. She said her watercolors were much more exacting and not as impressionistic as what she does now.
Oja will be also showcasing her work at the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival on August 10-11.
Artists interested in participating in the Wickford Art Association’s annual festival next year can find the application and guidelines for exhibiting on its website www.wickfordart.org.