What the Salem Arts Festival Means To…
By: Lindsey Roman
This weekend, Salem was absolutely bustling with good energy and activity from the three-day Salem Arts Festival. 2015 marked the seventh year that the festival has been bringing the arts community and its supporters together, and it was clear by the amount of people in attendance that this is an event loved and looked forward to by many. We at Creative Salem wanted to know – what does the Salem Arts Festival really mean to resident artists, and those who involved in connecting the Salem community together? I took to the streets to find out!
Mayor Kimberley Driscoll
Mayor Driscoll has been a fixture at city events like the Salem Arts Festival since taking office as the city’s first woman Mayor in 2006. She is a Mayor truly connected with the people, businesses and organizations of Salem and a large supporter of the arts. Besides the fun and excitement that the Salem Arts Festival brings to the downtown, she said, “It’s about the creative economy, really recognizing that we have artists here in all genres that really make Salem a special place to live, but also provide a lot to our local economy.” Mayor Driscoll believes a healthy arts community adds to the overall quality of life in for Salem residents and we most definitely agree.
Deanna Jacome, Fine Artist and Recent Graduate
Deanna, a recent Montserrat grad, is a multifaceted artist with a booth at the Salem Arts Festival focused on her marbled pieces. She got her start as an artist skilled in the process of Turkish marbling when she discovered a unique book in the Harvard library. “I looked at the flyleaf…the first page of the book…and I saw this amazing pattern with the most intricate design,” she said of her inspiration. After learning this design was created through Turkish marbling and further researching the design, Deanna taught herself the traditional process of creating it.
In the couple years since then, she has developed her own unique spin on the marbling process, and it’s apparent in her work. Each piece is like a snowflake – no two are quite the same! At the Arts Festival, Deanna was selling everything from marbled notebooks with handmade paper to marbled framed art, standalone pieces, shirts, kitchen utensils and more. Deanna also makes whimsical floral crowns that were spotted on many festivalgoers.
As a recent art school graduate, the Salem Arts Festival is integral in allowing Deanna to connect with the community and make an impression with her work and talent. “This is my first real chance to get myself out there, and this is such a nice opportunity. I appreciate so much that Creative Salem gave me this tent and this exposure and the ability to share the things that I want people to get to have. It’s a confidence boost. It makes going into the real world a little less scary when you have the warmth of Salem.” To view Deanna’s work and background, visit www.deannajacome.com.
Jamie, Co-Owner of Roost & Company
In front of Roost, the popular shop that Jamie and his wife Kate own on Front Street, was a tent filled with “Local Wisdom Cards” and keepsakes. These Local Wisdom Cards feature prints of handmade collages created by Kathleen Sawyer, a Maine artist. Upon announcing her retirement, Jamie and Kate wanted to continue the legacy of Kathleen’s work and took over the line. In support of her, Jamie was running the tent at the festival full of her work, and some pieces he had put together such as putting her collage prints on wood blocks.
For Jamie, whose shop sells a creative and inspired mix of products for the home or for gifting (even to yourself!), “the creative side of any community is what is the heart and energy, and why people want to live here, and why people like to get outdoors, so anytime you can celebrate it with an event like this, it’s really fun.” Jamie understands that art is precious to those who make it, and when people support it by purchasing something handcrafted, they are recipients of the love that went into the creation of the work. This means that there was certainly a lotta love going around at the Salem Arts Festival! Visit the Roost & Company store at 40 Front Street or online at www.roostandcompany.com.
Catherine Bertrand, Managing Director at Salem Theatre Company
I found Catherine enjoying the beautiful day while holding down the fort at the Salem Theatre table. As Managing Director of the non-profit Salem Theatre Company, Catherine works in the performing arts realm, another very celebrated creative genre in the Salem community and one represented at the festival as well. For Catherine, the Salem Arts Festival represents positive changes to Salem since she started school here fifteen years ago when it wasn’t such a destination city. “It’s been really amazing to watch,” Catherine said of the transformation Salem has undergone into a cultural hotbed. “The artist community…we’re not always supported everywhere we go, so to live somewhere and have something like this event is vital,” Catherine stated. She also credits John and Creative Salem for helping to bring the arts community together and giving the public access to all the exciting events going on in the city via social media. Salem Theatre is gearing up to present Larry Kramer’s utterly moving play, The Normal Heart, from June 11-27. Find out more at www.salemtheatre.com.
Heather Reid-Barratt, Heather Reid Studios
Heather, a lifelong North Shore resident and artist, is a four-year veteran of the Salem Arts Festival. She makes a variety of jewelry pieces crafted with metals, beautiful stones, sea glass and more. Heather is also a fine arts photographer and illustrator. While Heather sells her work via her website and online store, the opportunity to have a space at the Salem Arts Festival gives her a way to connect with new customers in an entirely different way. “It opens you up to so much more potential and possibilities, and a huge different client base that probably wouldn’t see you on a normal basis,” Heather explained. I, for one, am glad that Heather set up her “pop-up shop” at the Salem Arts Festival, because I scored some adorable sea glass earrings that I haven’t taken off since I purchased them. Check out Heather’s jewelry at www.blacksquirrelstudio.com and her photographer and illustrations at www.heatherreidstudios.com.
Morgan C. Leshinsky, Oil Painter
Morgan developed her talents in oil painting while majoring in the art form in college. “I like the medium because it’s very easy to manipulate and edit. It works well with me,” she said. Heather moved to Massachusetts from Vermont with her husband three years ago. In Vermont she had been a librarian, but was unable to find work as one in Massachusetts. Because of this, she decided to focus all of her efforts on oil painting, and it has blossomed into a full-time career. Morgan sees the Salem Arts Festival as a chance to showcase her work amongst friendly, open-minded people and, as a North Shore transplant, allows her to see that she fits in so well with the community and is welcomed by it. See Morgan’s paintings for yourself at www.paintingsbymorgancleshinsky.com.
Laura Henkins, Owner of LnK Designs
For years, Laura worked in a variety of business environments. When very difficult times struck after Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and her father passed away during the same time period, she turned to art. Laura explained, “I needed an outlet, so I started making things with my hands.” As a way to honor her late father, she began carving intricate Swedish lights out of wood, a few of which were featured in the Juried Gallery in Old Town Hall during the festival.
From there, she branched out into making jewelry. “It made me feel good, and it made me heal,” she said. Being a part of the Salem Arts Festival is exciting to Laura because of her hometown roots. “I grew up in Salem, so I have a strong connection with it. My first job was a Tour Guide at the Salem Witch House…I had to dress like a Puritan! This is coming home for me, and it’s very special to me,” she stated. Laura felt the all-around positivity that the Salem Arts Festival brought to the city, and we were certainly feeling it too. Visit Laura’s Etsy shop, LnK Designs, at www.Etsy.com/shop/LnKDesigns.
John Andrews, Creative Salem and Social Palates Photography
John began his creative career in the kitchen as an executive wedding chef. A few years ago, he realized he needed a change of pace professionally. Outside of the culinary world, John had a passion for combining social media and photography. He decided to focus on this field full-time and a new business, Social Palates Photography, was born.
John obtained much gratification in working with Salem’s small businesses and creatives, helping them to “tell their stories”. As he explained, “I fell in love with the community of Salem and started to discover how much sheer talent and creativity we could have collectively and individually.” However, artistic collaboration between the city’s creative professionals was lacking at this point in time.
Enter Creative Salem. The organization was founded as a way to encourage and develop the creative economy and aid creative professionals in their success. John was fascinated by this group and their mission and jumped right in. Creative Salem is where “I met the team from Go Out Loud, The Dejas, Councillor at Large William Legault and Diane Manahan from Pamplemousse who had been running the best events in town and all shared the communal working space located right in downtown Salem,” John said. The more involved he became with the creative community, the more he began to realize that many wonderful groups and people were doing things apart from each other. He saw the need to provide a kind of “tool” that facilitated and inspired creatives of all forms to collaborate and see the strength in numbers.
Nowadays, Creative Salem focuses on two models. “One is an easily accessible and friendly spot, our website and social media pages, for consumers to experience all the awesome creativity, stories and events that abound in our talented and diverse city under one roof,” said John. “The other is a resource and tool for creative professionals to tap into an existing network and utilize the relationships that we have in place in Salem and beyond.” While Salem is the organization’s home base, the Creative Salem network stretches out with galleries in more than six cities and professionals across New England and continues to grow. “Our connections with local bloggers, social media experts and photographers is a powerful resource for organizations to tap into,” he stated. And they certainly do - Creative Salem currently works with the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Theatre, a wide variety of local small businesses and restaurants, colleges like Monserrat and Salem State, and the list goes on.
As a supporter of the non-profit Salem Main Streets and member of the Salem Arts Festival Organizing Committee, John sees that the event and its ability to draw thousands to the downtown in celebration of the arts represents the achievement of both group’s missions. “It allows us to really showcase the level and breadth of the creative professionals (ours and others) in the community with the reinvigorated Artists’ Row and a brand new Public Art Director in Deborah Greel, so many of the pieces that we fought for and were hoping would happen have come to fruition,” he said. Each year he sees the Salem Arts Festival continue to reach a new level, and is honored that Creative Salem can be involved in “taking us into a more cultured and ‘creative friendly’ community.”
Joey Phoenix, Salem Pet Photo and Joey Phoenix Photography
While Joey has always had a passion for being creative, her interests originally steered her towards music and writing. However, about three years ago, “There came a point where the things I expressed on paper were still missing something,” she said. Following in the footsteps of her brother, a professional photographer in Illinois, Joey began learning and using photography to add to the impact of her stories and articles. At the time, she didn’t realize how significantly photography would affect her creative life, yet it eventually proved to be a beloved artistic form for her. Joey’s photography business has two sides – lighthearted pet photos and “moodier” fine arts imagery. “The thing that links everything I do is really my passion for creating narratives, whether through words or through images…the story behind the thing is almost as significant as the finished product itself, in my opinion,” she stated.
Joey began working within the Salem artistic community in October, and seeing how much support the creative scene receives has been eye-opening for her. “The longer I’m here, the more surprised I am at the amount the community has to offer creative professionals. It’s highly inclusive,” she said. Joey is a part of the Creative Salem network, setting up her fun pet photo booth within the group’s space on Front Street during the Salem Arts Festival, and praised the organization for “simply, how awesome it is!”
Bill Laforme, Nature Photography
Bill has been a journalist and news photographer, as well a freelancer in both, for the past two decades. He has a passion for protecting the environment and capturing all the beauty it holds through the lens. The gorgeous scenes from Bill’s point of view are featured in his photos of nature all around New England, whether it is a woodland lake in northern New Hampshire or boats sitting on the shores of a Massachusetts beach. Bill enjoys how the Salem Arts Festival allows him to showcase his photography of the place he is so proud to call home – Salem and the North Shore. Bill, a Salem Arts Association member, stated that the festival offers “a great sense of community.” He finds that “it’s very supportive, everyone is interested in what the other’s interested in; people want to know how you’re doing and they really care.” You can view and order Bill’s photography at www.Etsy.com/shop/sceneryforyou.
Theresa Wall Duggan, Art and Discord Studios
Theresa has been a lifelong artist, but had a hard time nailing down a specific form that best suited her. Then, over a decade ago, “I randomly picked up a point-and-shoot and took a couple mindblowing (to me) pictures and was like, okay, this is what I need to do!” she exclaimed. Within the past five years she has figured out her style, learning towards Renaissance painter inspired images, religious iconography, and a current project revolving around deities and mythological characters from all around the world. Theresa also works in the fashion and portrait realms as well.
As an artist new to the Salem area (she previously lived in Franklin, MA), the Salem Arts Festival is of importance to Theresa in getting her name as an artist recognizable within the community. Theresa and her husband, a tattoo artist at Witch City Ink, specifically chose to move to Salem because of its strong creative community and the willingness of resident artists to support each other and attend events like the Salem Arts Festival. Theresa said that, “We don’t really know a lot of people, so events like this are great because you get to meet people in the community and other artists and it brings everybody out. I’ve met a lot of people.” Welcome to Salem, Theresa! You can check out her work at www.artanddiscordstudios.com.
Sabin and Pamela, Double Exposure
Pamela, a Massachusetts native, met Sabin while living in Savannah, Georgia. Their artistic collaboration was something that flowed so naturally, and now they continue to create together in Salem. While Pamela focuses on watercolors, Sabin, a self-taught artist, works with wood as a medium. “I’m just fascinated with wood. I see art in it,” he said. Pamela and Sabin collaborate on their jazz-themed art and mixed media work. When Sabin first moved north, he was struggling to reconnect with his art in a new place. Thanks to the events like the Salem Arts Festival, “Seeing other artists has made me come out of my shell,” he said. “It’s good to be a part of something, to belong, being part of the Salem Arts Festival.” The support that the artistic community receives in Salem has helped Sabin to grow more comfortable with his home here while allowing him to get recognized and feel like a part of the city. Next time you see Sabin and Pamela out and about, make sure to say hello!
Kylie Sullivan, Manager of Salem Main Streets
Kylie is the Manager of the non-profit Salem Main Streets, the organization at the forefront of planning and running the Salem Arts Festival each year. When asked about the importance of having this event, Kylie said, “I am a firm believer that the arts are integral to the economy of our community, both as an attraction and a vital part of why people want to live here, have businesses here, why people want to visit, and also, these are our community members. We want them to succeed.” Kylie is also passionate about the way that events like the Salem Arts Festival can completely turn a space that you may pass by daily into a totally different look and feel on festival days. The traffic from the festival also benefits the surrounding businesses, bringing eager customers to their stores, cafes, and restaurants as well. “We have so much to offer here in Salem, we want to showcase it all,” said Kylie. Learn more about Salem Main Streets at www.salemmainstreets.org.
Sibel Alpaslan, Ceramics by Sibel
Sibel, a ceramics artist, got her start in her craft attending art school in her native Istanbul, Turkey. In Turkey, Sibel explained, students take a test for the school to determine which artistic path each student would be best suited for. Her school clearly had the right idea when they chose to steer Sibel towards ceramics. Her designs are inspired “mostly by nature and earthy or secondary colors”. She creates beautiful yet functional items with, as her husband describes, whimsical touches.
Through speaking with her customers, Sibel feels an importance lies in the Salem Arts Festival in showing visitors just how much more Salem has to offer outside of the Halloween season. “They want to see art pieces and craft pieces,” she said. Well, they’ve come to right place. You can find Sibel at her shop on Artists’ Row until November and online at www.ceramicsbysibel.com.
Nikky Bergman, Nikky Bergman Jewelry
Nikky began working in her craft in art school while earning degrees in Fine Arts with a focus in Metals. She focused on the Fine Arts side of things for quite awhile, but her business eventually became more focused on wearable products. “I still try to keep a really artistic vision in jewelry and I think that’s what makes it different. I think of myself as an artist jeweler because I have both backgrounds,” said Nikky. These days, you can find Nikki making and selling her fine and custom jewelry out of her space on Artists’ Row, sharing it with Liz Frazier of Witch City Wicks and Bridget Alexander of The Pack Paper Co. They have combined their spot on Artists’ Row into a boutique style shop out of which customers can purchase Nikky’s jewelry, Liz’s candles, and Bridget’s paper designs.
Events like the Salem Arts Festival generate foot traffic to those with shops on Artists’ Row, and as Nikky said, “It’s wonderful as a community member to see other artists in Salem come out and community members support them, and it’s a fun atmosphere for families.” Her own family was visiting her that day but they were also at the festival to listen to the live music and see what others were offering. “The Salem Arts Festival brings the community alive which is really important because we all get out and see each other, say hi and interact with each other.” If you’d like to see Nikky’s jewelry, she will be on Artists’ Row until November. She is also online at www.nikkybergman.com.
Karen Scalia, Owner of Salem Food Tours
Karen is the Founder of Salem Food Tours, taking guests on unforgettable dining journeys through Salem’s culinary scene. Karen started her tour business about two and a half years ago with her love of history, interest in locally sourced food, and event planning background in mind. “I started the business a couple years ago when I got the idea that it would be a great way to understand modern Salem but through the lens of the fact that we are the home of the spice trade scene in the United States, and that history is what blew my mind,” Karen explained about the interesting angle her tour takes on Salem’s food history.
People seemed very interested in Karen’s table of spices and Salem Food Tour info set up in Artists’ Row, and she spoke of how wonderful it has been getting to meet new people all weekend. “I’m on the Salem Arts Festival Committee, but I see the value of being on the ground this year,” Karen said. “A lot of arts festivals are very focused on visual arts, which is great, but this one has all the art forms come together and is an opportunity for professionals and locals to show what they do.” Karen believes that the Salem Arts Festival is an event that will be going into many, many people’s calendars as a must-attend family event every June.
Sign up for Salem Food Tours at www.salemfoodtours.com.
Knowing how much the Salem Arts Festival means to a variety of the artists and organizers who were there certainly validates why we hold events like this in Salem, and why we continue to focus on building a community to support both creative professionals and area residents who simply love the arts scene surrounding us. We are already looking forward to next year’s festival!