NORTH KINGSTOWN — Hundreds of RI residents attended the 56th annual Wickford Art Festival last weekend, strolling along the streets of the historic village as they met artists and sought out artwork to admire and purchase. All types of artwork were on display, from oil, acrylic, pastel, mixed-media, glass, drawing, etching, sculpture, photography, modern ink and more.
The festival, which took place on June 6 and 7, is one of New England’s longest running, outdoor, fine art festivals. The event also featured local food from Wickford’s several restaurants on Main Street, and other food vendors located in the town parking lot and on West Main.
Since 1962, the Wickford Art Association has been the promoter of the Wickford Art Festival. This year, the juried, fine art festival featured over 200 fine art artists from New England, the US and beyond.
The festival is so renowned, Sunshine Magazine ranked it the best fine art festival in New England and fifth best in the country.
Down on Main Street, Richard Hilgendorff sat alongside his stunning photographs, taking it all in.
Hilgendorff, who spoke as festival goers admired his photos, said he shoots “worldscapes.”
“I really like ethereal type images,” he said. “My shtick is I try to take an unusual viewpoint of a usual thing you’d see around there. I print all my images on large format aluminum. I really like how it enhances the image.”
And in between receiving compliments about his work, Philadelphia based oil-painter John Pompeo said he paints “peaceful energy that makes you feel calm--stillness that makes you feel connected.”
“Most of these are rural scenes are scenes around my studio,” Pompeo explained.
Pompeo, who said he’s lived a few different lives a chemist and a musician, added that he’s attracted to “natural energy.”
“There’s a peace in it, there’s a stillness, something that makes us connect to the earth and makes us realize we’re part of it. You could call it god, or the universe, or whatever it is. But there’s something that makes you stop,” he said. “That’s what I want to put out into the world.”
Further down the road, as she worked on her latest piece, Illinois based painter Elizabeth Waddington she had a very successful weekend participating in the festival.
“I had such a good show, I sold two-thirds of my paintings this is all I got left and I have eight more shows this season,” she said. “It’s a lovely problem to have. Now I’ve got three weeks that I have to try to paint a good thirty paintings. So that’s my goal.”
Waddington went on to describe her unique process and inspiration, both of which center on painting flowers she grew in her garden.
“I try to do as much as I can without using a brush. So what I do is I start off with a piece of glass, and I just squeeze my paint on, I kind of sketch my flower-- this is a bunch of poppies-- and then I have paper that I prepare with rubber cement, it’s like a resist, so then I get my paper really wet and I smash all that paint on there at once,” she explained, as she worked the painting in front of her.
“I was just thinking to myself that a lot of people feel like, ‘I didn’t intend that, I’m controlling,’ just let it happen,” she added. “Cool stuff happens.”