August 31, 2006

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An artistic endeavor
Art in the Park returns with trolley for Manchester’s Bel Esprit
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Manchester’s annual Art in the Park is now under the umbrella of Bel Esprit, which also encompasses the Mill City Festival Sept. 9 and 10. After a hiatus due to lack of sponsorship, organizers are bringing back the free trolley to move revelers between the festival and the juried Manchester Artists Association show.

About 50 area artists participate. Judges choose top works in oil, acrylic, watercolor, photography, mixed media and pastels. Prints and cards start at about $20 while large original works might be priced up to $1,500.

“I think Manchester is starting to support the visual arts more and more, it’s becoming a more prominent part of the city,” Sharon Price, a teacher at Wilson Elementary School, said. Price won second place last year for her oil of a Martha’s Vineyard marsh and also paints Plein Air at Plum Island.

Robin Frisella aims for realism with her pastel portraits and still life. She’s shown at Art in the Park for five years, and is usually showing somewhere in New England each weekend. Frisella and Price like the fact that this show is near home. “There is such a diverse group of artists, it’s always nice to see what other artists are working on.,” Frisella said.

“The crowd last year was light because of the lack of PR and they made it a point this year to do a 360 on that,” said Monty Whitfield, an impressionistic realist whose “Primordial Forest” acrylic took first place last year. Frisella noticed a drop at all art shows, and attributed it to gas prices.

Many MAA members hope the return of the trolley will boost attendance. The trolley will also stop at Fishways, the Millyard Museum, the MAA Gallery and Arms Park. MAA artist Ann Trainer Dominque came up with “Bel Esprit” as a cultural weekend name for Manchester, said Diane De Bonville, chair of Art in the Park and MAA publicity. “It’s a French word meaning cultivated, highly intelligent person.”

Price usually sets up her easel but spends more time talking than painting. “Each one of my paintings kind of tells a story and I like being able to share that. Hopefully [visitors] can put their own experience on what they’re seeing and find their own interest in it.”

De Bonville is encouraging more art demonstrations and brings watercolors and “yupo” paper for her visitors to try. “Paint kind of floats on the surface. It takes a longer time to dry, but the result is the colors stay bright,” De Bonville said about the glossy paper. “Children especially like to try it.”

MAA doesn’t have a booth for children, but De Bonville recommends having kids choose their favorite work. “It makes it more interesting and makes them look more carefully at the paintings,” she said. Plus, they might win something. Each artist marks a piece for the raffle. People write which work they want to win on their tickets. Half of the raffle take helps fund MAA shows and activities and the other half goes to the artist. “Everybody’s happy,” De Bonville said.

MAA has 250 members, a mix of amateur and professionals. The group also holds an outdoor show in Bedford and an indoor show in April.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

Art in the Park
Fine art show from the Manchester Artists Association during Bel Esprit, Manchester’s cultural weekend.
Saturday, Sept. 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Veterans Park, Elm Street, Manchester
MAA: manchester-artists.org
Bel Esprit: millcityfestival.com


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