The new Harvest of Artists event is coming to the Centennial Grounds in Richards Landing, St. Joseph Island.
At a time when most seasonal events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, a new art event is great news for regional artists.
“It has been a tough time for artists. If you have not been selling things online, you’re not selling things at all,” says Sherie (McKay) Gladu, the Healthy Living Coordinator for the Township of St. Joseph.
“The Harvest of Artists is a brand new event that we have been talking about it for a long time.”
Gladu creates events under the guidance of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee through the Township.
The committee analyzed options for possible events to bring to the community.
“We were brainstorming to see what we could do this season that would respect the social distancing guidelines, but still give people something to do, something outside of the regular.”
Gladu ran a survey earlier in the season to determine what kind of event to create.
“Overwhelmingly people were interested in an outdoor art show,” she says.
“It was challenging, because a lot of the [artist] tours were in artist’s homes and people didn’t want to have people walking through their spaces. The risk initially seemed quite high as we didn’t understand [the virus]. Now we know that outdoors and distance is quite safe.”
Holding an outdoor art show seemed to check all the boxes, especially in terms of safety.
“It is being held at the old Cornfest grounds which is huge,” she says.
“We have lots of room to spread out and make sure the artists are spaced a good fifteen to twenty feet apart between their booths. That way people can wait safely if there is somebody already shopping at a booth. Of course, you are going to wait your turn just like at the grocery store, keeping six feet back.”
Gladu notes that the feedback from regional artists about a possible new art show was immediate and strong.
“There was an appetite from artists, as well as from the public, to get going. So I came up with the name ‘Harvest of Artists’ and put [the concept] out to some of the artists who participated in last year’s Sylvan Valley tour, as the artists from Wabi Sabi, a fine craft exhibition and sale that normally takes place in The Old Town Hall in Richard’s Landing.”
Artists were invited to put in an application to the event through social media.
“We wanted to get a really nice cross section of everything from painting to printmaking, photography to wood carving, felting to stained glass, jewelry to textiles and anything else that you would consider being a fine craft. Basically, we got an overwhelming response from the artists saying, ‘Yes, please. We would love to participate.’”
In order to make things manageable in terms of social distancing at the Harvest of Artists event, artists have been asked to bring everything they would need, including tables, chairs, tents, hand sanitizer and other necessities.
“We asked them to be self-reliant, but we are going to give them this great space and to promote the event. Hopefully, we are going to have a really great day.”
Despite being late in the season, Gladu thinks the event falls on a really good weekend.
“I know it is at the end of the season, but it is also for artists who are out at their camps or are working from home,” she says. “They may have some new materials to offer.”
Gladu notes that the event is also scheduled ahead of other seasonal art shows.
“It is a good opportunity for people to pick up those gifts for the fall and Christmas season now. To get them ahead of time, right? Who knows what the shopping season is going to be like in November and December?”
She also notes how important it is to shop local and for artists to have a venue to recoup some of their losses.
This time of the year is also the beginning of the harvest season.
“So why not Harvest of Artists? We are harvesting the talent that we have in our local and regional area,” she laughs.
“We just picked the best, the brightest and the willing [to participate],” she laughs.
As an outdoor event, the event is weather dependent, but Gladu is hoping for the best.
“Outdoors is really the only way for us to do this kind of show, so we are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” she says.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed that we are going to have a beautiful weekend … we need the public to come out and support the artists. There is no entry free, so just come ready to buy your gifts for the fall.”
The Harvest of Artists is scheduled on Saturday, Aug. 29 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Centennial Grounds in Richards Landing on St. Joseph Island.
For more information, check out the Harvest of Artists Facebook event page.