If you love art, nature, village roads, studios, the artistic process and fish, you should head to Dartmouth and Westport for a village art tour like no other. Thirty-two area artists are participating in 7th Annual open studio Art Drive this month and next, and like the name implies, you drive along quaint village roads from artist to artist. It features some of the South Coast’s most accomplished painters, ceramic artists, photographers, jewelers and woodworkers.
“The Art Drive is one of the region’s premier events for serious art lovers and collectors,” says Beverly Carter, one of the Art Drive founders (and an artist). “The Art Drive gives visitors the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of highly accomplished artists while touring unique and dramatic private studios along a 15-mile route in historic ‘hidden gem’ communities along Massachusetts’ South Coast.”
But what originally inspired the Art Drive? “My husband and I were visiting friends in Lexington, Kentucky and saw these amazing full-scale horses throughout the city, each done by local artists and sponsored by business to promote public art awareness and raise funds for charities,” adds Beverly. “This inspired our fish, which on a smaller scale (pun intended) has now become a differentiating feature of the Art Drive.”
For the last four years, large-scale artistic renderings of codfish, yellowfin tuna, striped bass and bluefish have been enthusiastically received. This year, the featured fish is the winter flounder, which has inspired this year’s theme to be called The Flippin Flounder. Each year, the artistic creations inspired by the featured fish are auctioned on eBay with a portion of the funds donated to the Lloyd Center for the Environment’s educational pro- grams for local schools. Artists also do- nate 5-10% of their sales from the weekend to the Center. “To date, we have provided over $25,000 to their education fund,” beams Beverly.
It takes a big school of volunteers to drive the Drive. There is also great community support. “Concordia Boatyard creates all the fish templates for us each year. Space for the student exhibit is donated by South Wharf in Padanaram Village, and Westport Rivers Vineyard and Winery hosts our fish each year at one of their summer con- certs [which is] a great opportunity to see them all in one place." Making a flounder certainly gives the artist a flat surface to create on. One of the artists, Frank McCoy, concurs. “It gave me a larger area to work on and I think it made [for] an interesting and colorful seascape,” says Frank. “I think be- cause there are so many different kinds of art and because the artists are pres- ent to answer questions or talk about their art, it has been very successful. This is a wonderful area to live in if you like painting seascapes and landscapes. I’m from Kansas, so it was all new to me, but I love living and painting here.”
Another Art Drive artist is William Kendall, who interprets nature with an abstract eye. He presently holds the title of professor emeritus from Bridgewater State University. This will be the first time that Professor Kendall has been a part of the Art Drive. “Although the viewer may not instantly recognize the content of my paint- ings, hopefully, they may react to the essence of my interpretation through my use of color and movement,” he says. “My painting process is a very complicated method of layering pigments using the timeless techniques of impasto, scumbles and glazes. I prefer to work on large canvases, as I can manipulate the paint more easily. Many of these works take months to finish. I try to keep pushing the paint; to make things happen in spontaneous ways; I use combinations I’ve never used before,” says William. “Living in Westport has definitely influenced the content of my work. I am con- stantly inspired by the sights and sounds of the sea,” he adds.
“As John Graham (artist, critic and theorist) once said, ‘starting a painting is starting an argument in terms of canvas and paint,’ It seems that I am always in the middle of an argument.” So check out his argument and other Flippin Flounder-inspired artwork, if only for the halibut.
July 18, Flippin Flounder Exhibit opens. Westport Rivers Vineyard and Winery. July 22-25, Flippin Flounder preview. Various Dartmouth and Westport businesses. 7th Annual Art Drive. August 9-10, throughout Dartmouth and Westport