Arts in the Park takes over Belfast’s Steamboat Landing

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 3:00pm

    BELFAST —  Over 120 artists set up shop on Belfast’s waterfront for the 22nd annual Arts in the Park July 9 and 10.

    This year’s event was held on Steamboat Landing, with a sea of white tent-tops stretching from the Boathouse to well beyond the area’s gazebo.

    Hosted by the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, and the Belfast Parks and Recreation Department, event organizers said they had heard a lot of positive comments from vendors about the move.

    “Obviously the weather helps,” Belfast Parks & Recreation Director Norm Poirier said.

    Last year’s event, which was held in Heritage Park, was hampered slightly by rainy weather, but this year both days were dry and sunny.

    The sunny weather was extra appreciated by Amy Sirois, of Salt Air Designs.

    Sirois and her partner, Tracy Palm, create beachy, coastal decor together, though they sometimes split up to cover multiple craft shows occurring the same day.

    The Portland craft fair Sirois’ partner attended Saturday was involved in a microburst, which saw numerous tents toppled over, and many artist’s wares destroyed.

    Fortunately the weather in Belfast was much more cooperative.

    One person enjoying the sun was Rebecca Emery, of Reclaimed Maine, which creates art pieces and jewelry using authentic Maine seaglass.

    Emery and her husband have been avid seaglassers for over 25 years.

    “It’s what we do,” she said of their decades old hobby.

    Though they’ve been at it for years, Emery said that these days the two can afford to be choosier with when they go in search of the weathered glass bits, thanks to a stash of over 20,000 pieces.  

    “It used to be live and die by the tides,” she said of her original collection methods.

    Now that she has a stockpile big enough to last for years, Emery is able to pick the perfect piece for whatever project she’s working on.

    Emery’s seaglass offerings were far from the only arts and crafts at the event to have been inspired by the sea.

    This year’s Artist of the Year, Linda Mahoney, also uses the coasts of Maine in her artwork, albeit in a different manner.

    Mahoney uses a technique known as woodblock printing to create her unique portraits of life by the New England water.

    Hailing from Northville Mass., Mahoney said in addition to traveling to Maine for different craft fairs, she also comes to paint.

    “As inspiration I mostly go Downeast, like Steuben, Schoodic [Penninsula], Addison, and the Lubec area,” she said.

    Beyond the coast, Mahoney said she’s influenced by a number of things.

    “Water, atmosphere, clouds. Sometimes fog. The movement of the landscapes,” she said listing several sources of inspiration.

    Although her works begin as straightforward paintings, the complicated process of creating a woodblock print can take six weeks to complete.

    Despite being a lifelong artist, it was only after taking a workshop in the traditional asian technique that Mahoney began her ten year journey. The time consuming method involves chiseling images into a wooden block before using layers of ink to transfer that image to paper.

    Mahoney said it took her roughly two years following the workshop for her to perfect her technique - which was readily apparent in the many pieces of art she had on display.

    With so many talented artists on site, there was something to satisfy almost everyone. There were also a variety of food options on site for those who worked up an appetite, and live music was performed throughout both days.

    With sun, smiles, and so many imaginative creations on display, this year marked yet another success for the decades old event.

    See additional photos here.

    Erica Thoms can be reached at