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This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 29, 1999. All rights reserved.
Fine Arts, Pleasant Music
It’s not your usual street festival, and it won’t be
like the recent string of summer fairs, feasts, and festivals. These,
you may have noticed, were marked by some or all of the following:
lights and loud music, junk food, rides, games of chance, live animals,
dead fish, tacky souvenirs, and — given the unremittingly hot
weather — glistening people, determined to enjoy themselves.
No, says Beth Slavish, one of the organizers of New Hope’s sixth annual
juried outdoor Arts and Crafts Festival, that takes place Saturday
and Sunday, October 2 and 3. It won’t be about any of that.
What it will be about are fine art and fine crafts on a cool and lovely
fall weekend in an artsy Bucks County village that could have invented
artsy towns. It will include "pleasant music" of guitar and
voice, as part of the ambiance. Rather than food vendors, visitors
are invited to try New Hope’s wide range of local fare, in an equally
varied mix of settings, both indoors and out.
While the "high quality art show" takes place throughout New
Hope, two streets will be closed to facilitate strolling arts aficionados
and the booths of some 170 artists and crafters from all over the
East Coast, with some from as far west as Colorado. North Main Street
— coming from Lambertville, that’s a right turn off Bridge Street
— is one; Mechanic Street, bisecting South Main, is the second.
In a deliberate mix-up of arts and crafts, the 10-foot tented booths
will be positioned to allow easy dipping into shops and snack venues
along the way. Some of the galleries in town will feature work by
their own artists, so the 170 artist count is just the beginning.
Slavish, also a spokesperson for New Hope’s Chamber of Commerce, is
one-third of "SBF Event Planners," who also orchestrate the
town’s annual "Arty" awards ceremony in September. She’s proud
of both the artist-crafter mix the festival attracts, and the five-judge
slide-jurying process that determines who will take part. Planning
for this year’s festival began the day after last year’s ended.
Slavish says the range of goods available is so wide, prices go from
$10 to "the thousands." And what a selection: Tiles based
on quilt patterns, stoneware and ceramics, painted furniture, block-printed
clothing, stained glass windows, lamps, and kaleidoscopes, hardwood
turnings for bowls and vases, and even handmade puppets. Such crafts
will co-exist with the more predictable fine art mediums of painting,
prints, sculpture, mixed media, and photography — including underwater
images — along with 18k gold and sterling jewelry.
Slavish advises against looking for a metered parking space, suggesting
instead that visitors use the many parking lots all over town, starting
with a capacious one behind the steam train station.
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, the two mills operated by Benjamin
Parry burned down and were rebuilt as "the New Hope Mills,"
offering "new hope" to the whole town. Long a commercial hub
because of its position between the Delaware River and the Delaware
Canal, New Hope faded industrially when railroads superseded the waterways
as lines of trade. Soon, though, New Hope’s vaunted landscapes, heralded
since the time of its original owner, William Penn, drew painters
and a host of other artists. By the 1920s, it was home to numerous
painters, craftspersons, and writers — an arts colony.
Today, the village offers visitors more than 200 art galleries, antique
shops, boutiques, and one-of-a-kind craft and specialty shops —
as well as myriad other activities and sites, historical to recreational.
The village, the county, and the tradition of artistry — these
appealing realities combine to create the setting of New Hope’s outdoor
arts and crafts festival.
— Pat Summers
New Hope, 215-862-5880. Also Sunday, October 3. Free. Saturday,
October 2, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. , and Sunday, October 3, 11 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
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