2018-07-05 / News

Outdoor ambience aids art alliance

BY RYAN GIBBS


A vendor sets up her paintings Saturday at the weekly arts market hosted by Simpatico Jamestown. The curbside location attracts foot traffic every Saturday throughout the summer. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN A vendor sets up her paintings Saturday at the weekly arts market hosted by Simpatico Jamestown. The curbside location attracts foot traffic every Saturday throughout the summer. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Every Saturday night, Simpatico Jamestown serves yellowfin tuna, coconut shrimp and blue mussels from Prince Edward Island.

Every Saturday, the downtown restaurant serves Hawaiian shirts, painted seashells and books starring a time-traveling chicken.

The Jamestown Alliance for Artist Sustainability hosted the season’s first market Saturday at 13 Narragansett Ave. Dubbed Art al Fresco, an Italian term that means “in the cool air,” vendors will continue offering their creations — from glass sculptures to lawn ornaments, jewelry to stationery — each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through August.

The market was launched in 2015 when Simpatico owner Amy Barclay invited the alliance to peddle on her patio during weekend mornings. Because the restaurant does not serve lunch, the downtown storefront is empty until late afternoon, giving artists an ideal curbside spot during the height of the summer.

Narragansett Avenue artist Jillian Barber has been selling her handmade ceramics and planters since the market was founded. The best customers, she said, are pedestrians talking their routine strolls down main street.

“They come downtown for their morning coffee or to walk their dog,” Barber said about the foot traffic. “They’re some of our best customers. It’s charming. It’s very social and it’s very pleasant.”

Along with her artwork, Barber has been hawking secondhand Hawaiian shirts. She has been collecting the Aloha apparel for nearly two decades, starting when her brother moved to the Pacific Ocean state.

“They’re very hip right now,” she said. “They’re things of beauty. To me, they’re art.”

The first market also featured artists from Out of the Box Studio on Clinton Avenue. The former Bridges Inc. gallery, which is now operated by Looking Upwards, serves residents with intellectual disabilities.

Their table featured greeting cards, ceramics, T-shirts and Katherine Thompson’s sewing projects. Staff member Lea Corey lends assistance to the artists at the point of sale. She said this market is more than just a place to sell their work. The busy sidewalk acts as a marketing tool, raising awareness for the agency, the studio and the artists, which could lead to commissions in the future.

“A lot of people walk by this area, especially in the summertime, so it gets our name out there,” Corey said.

Pat King, a vendor since the inception, sold her acrylic seashells, many of which feature depictions of local locales, including the Great Creek. While the market puts some money in her pocket, it also allows her to mingle with her fellow artists.

“It’s a nice, relaxing morning,” she said. “It’s really great because they don’t have anything like it in town.”

King’s seashells weren’t the only souvenirs for sale illustrating the Conanicut coast. Carol Gates’ booth featured painted rocks alongside her oil paintings. Although the larger rocks are more versatile, featuring familiar scenes like Beavertail Lighthouse, the smaller stones were painted based on their shape. For example, if Gates thought a rock resembled a woman’s face, she fleshed that image out with paint. A wider rock could become a fish, while another was painted to resemble a sleeping dog. An orange rock required minimal alterations to transform it into a camel’s head.

Gates finds many of the rocks herself along the East Ferry waterfront, but sometimes her friends will pass along a rock whose shape reminds them of a human face or animal. She believes the arts market provides a perfect opportunity for tourists to purchase souvenirs of their visit.

“This is just one more place where they can come to pick up things that they’ll bring home and think about Jamestown when they look at them,” she said. “I just love doing it. It’s fun and it’s a great way to get my artwork out in front of the public.”

Elaine Porter continued the loose, natural theme of the market, showcasing bird baths made from repurposed glass and cast leaves.

“They’re all natural leaves on these bird baths,” she said. “They all come out of my yard.”

Her eclectic booth also offers leather, stone jewelry and her award-winning paintings.

Judy Kinzel, a paper artist, sold her greeting cards and hand-bound journals. She also sold three volumes of her book series starring Clara, a chicken that travels through time. Kinzel uses vintage photographs that have been digitally manipulated to tell stories about its title character.

“It started with a silly story about going through the estate of two sisters and finding a journal about a time-traveling chicken,” she said. “It was fairly popular.”

This is Kinzel’s second summer at the market. Like King, she decided to return because she enjoys socializing with pedestrians and her colleagues.

“Part of art is audience, it’s sharing, so it’s fun to do that,” she said.

Along with the familiar faces, this year has attracted a few new faces to the Simpatico patio, including Katie Carlson and her friend Tenzin Choephel. Carlson had just moved to Jamestown from Connecticut the day before. She passed the market after eating brunch at Slice of Heaven.

“Everything looked wonderful, so we decided to stop in,” Carlson said. “I really like the landscapes of the beaches.”

“This is generally my first impression of town,” Choephel added. “It’s really quaint. I really like it.”

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