Whether it was oil pastels, colored pencils, photography, acrylic paint or even a unique form of sculpture, the last weekend of August decked out the Ashuelot River Park with tents from each and every side to the next. If there was a hole in the lawn, there was a tent to fill the slot, leaving just enough space to to walk through the park to visit each tent.  The annual “Art in the Park” was a big hit.

The dreary, muggy weather did not by any means hinder the bright and exciting vibe of the art show. Tent 32 drew in attention with a black and white photograph of a sweet, innocent and content newborn with a perfect little grin. In the palms of his parents, it was as if he was happy simply to be a part of the world.

The photographer, Sue O’Connor, has been taking pictures for 15 years and had the opportunity to photograph triplets; the smirking baby is one of the three. However, O’Connor said she is more of a nature photographer.

Who knew the grass fields we see from afar could be so stunning? Zoomed in and focused on the top of a meadow field, a piece of tall grass against the blue sky looked as picturesque as a bed of wild flowers. Her son, Mike T. Mooney stemmed his passion for photography with drawing. With an artist’s eye, Mooney “thinks outside the box,” he said. “My mind is always working, it’s a gift and a curse at the same time.”

Just a tent over, Darrel Beymer had his shoes kicked off in excitement and freedom. This year was Beymer’s first year showing his art.

“It’s a fear I needed to overcome,” he said. Beymer said he does art for the fun of it, he doesn’t care to make money.

“It’s a midst of chaotic energy from music and dancing. Part of it is letting yourself go—not trying to force it. Once I gave up trying to make it look like something, was when it actually started to look like something,” Beymer said. “If there was more art and music in our world, it would truly be a better place.” With a tent filled by vibrant colored abstract paintings, color pencil pieces and distorted photos, Beymer said his inspiration is his children. When they began learning to blend with colored pencils, his interest peaked and he started this new life project.

One piece looks as if it is oil pastels. Bright pinks, oranges, yellows, greens and blues meshed together in a beautiful mess—one would never guess it is actually a distorted photo of a scattered yard sale. Old, mangled furniture spread so pleasantly-looking across a layer of multi-colored grass.

Across to the other side of Ashuelot River Park, past the sweet sounds of a violinist, Wendy Hulslander showed her intricate location paintings in tent 59. Hulslander has been painting acrylics for two and a half years. She grew up in Keene and said she has always had visions of good paintings in town.

“I like the old buildings and architecture in Keene,” she said, “When I go to different places, I feel something.”

Hulslander is an entrepreneur. She said that a blank canvas sat in her living room for months and it hit her—life is too short.

With some paint experience under her belt, she has plans to create a children’s book with settings from historical Keene.

While ideas on the children’s book are still in process, Hulslander said she sold her first 48×48 acrylic canvas of Brewbakers and the Colonial to a friend of hers who now lives in Los Angeles.  Hulslander said a hot seller is of Deluca’s Market in Boston.

However, she is currently brewing a plan on a Keene State scene. Sure, she could paint a spectacular piece of Cobblestone Ale House lit up on a Fall, Saturday night—but said she would truly like to focus on the beauty of the KSC campus for a potential big seller to students.

Weaving through the park toward the back end was Hannah Clark’s tent. The contrast between black and neon pink or lime green seemed hard to ignore.

There seemed to be a re-occurring theme: a sort of junk yard, Tim Burton-esque.

Not a messy junk yard, though, and not so much the dark and ominous Tim Burton style, but the mysterious side with dark and bright color contrast splashes with curly, fun designs.

A laughing flower, for instance. Everybody knows flowers don’t have emotions–but the freedom in art allows them to.

Just a bit further back was Bob Taylor and Tom Devine’s tent. Birds, turtles, lady bugs, cranes, dragonflies and several animal sculptures are displayed using scrap metal.

An owl was leering right on the tent table. The owl was built using scrap metal and ball bearings for those wide, owl eyes.

The pair even designed a full size giraffe that can be found at Alyson’s Orchard just nearby in Walpole.

A different kind of theme was in Jen Wiechers’ tent. Also using acrylic, the tent was packed with nothing but paintings of hearts. With such a simplistic idea, her exhibition area lit up the cloudy, muggy weekend with fascinating color patterns.

The stroke of each heart was a blend of several colors, as if each single piece of bristle on her paintbrush was dipped in a different color.

“The continual line from a heart is freeing, it flows right out of you,” Wiechers said.

Wiechers said she has done pottery and made her own jewelry but this project was one of her favorites.

“I love so many mediums of art, I can’t imagine picking just one, but the happy just comes out with this,” she said.

When she began this mission, Wiechers said all she knew was that it would be colorful.

The bright backgrounds and multi-colored heart project led her to the “Follow Your Heart” series.

“Allowing myself to play kept it so simple. It was amazing and freeing and exciting and down right exhilarating in moments,” she said. And it does not stop there.

The exciting colors also brought her to do prints of a different kind of series. By separating blocks of eye-catching color schemes, the “Follow Your Heart” series gained a sister—“Pieces of my Heart.”

Gorgeous mixtures of pleasing color accents—a basic idea—yet so very mind-blowing.


Rebecca Farr can be contacted at rfarr@keene-equinox.com

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