Who says Labor Day has to be the end? The summer season continues Saturday, Sept. 12, at the 37th Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Bethany will transform into a free outdoor art festival. More than 100 juried artists will show and sell their finest glass, jewelry, metalwork, pottery, painting, photography, basketry, drawing, woodwork and more.
Artists’ booths will be located on the boardwalk from Campbell Place to Central Avenue, also spilling onto Parkwood Avenue, the bandstand and the east end of Garfield Parkway.
“There’s fine arts with the fine crafts, so you get a really diverse artwork,” said artist Celeste Kelly. “So, anything you’re interested in, you’re going to find something there. The quality of the work is great.”
“It’s free — that’s the big thing!” Kelly said. “I think a lot of people don’t know … that a lot of places charge.”
That brings in many types of visitors.
“It’s our first time, and I had no clue what it’s like. Anyway, it will be fun to find out,” said artist Elaine Valletta of Appletree Creations, whose family is making a vacation of it.
“If you like to go to craft shows at all, and you like the ocean, you’ve got a great combination, Valletta said. “What could be better than that?”
The festival has more than art.
• The silent auction features items that festival artists have donated. Guests can bid from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All proceeds benefit art programs at the four local elementary schools.
• The Bethany Beach Farmers Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the PNC Bank parking lot.
• Visitors can also check out the children’s area.
• The public can participate in an interactive mural creation with local artist John Donato.
• Sedona restaurant will host a four-part wine tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. Selected by Banks Wines and Spirits, two reds and two whites will be paired with bites created by Sedona chefs. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at the door or beforehand at www.bethany-fenwick.org (Visit the event page, then click “Register Now”). Proceeds benefit the Chamber. Shoppers can visit the tasting anytime to sample the food and wine stations two blocks from the ocean. It’s a way to try something they wouldn’t normally buy, said Sedona owner Marian Parrot.
• Five local high school artists will compete for a $1,000 scholarship, sponsored by Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation. The winner will be determined by public vote, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The winner will be announced at 4 p.m.
Paid parking continues in downtown Bethany Beach, with the normal trolley schedule also in place for the event. For this event only, visitors may also park for free at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, which is a 10-minute walk from the festival.
The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 13.
Learn more at www.bethanybeachartsfestival.com.
Meet some of the boardwalk artists
Color and light twinkle in 3D mosaics
When visiting Barcelona years ago, Celeste Kelly was dazzled by the beauty and size of Spanish mosaics designed by Antonio Gaudi. Having studied ceramics at University of Delaware, Kelly still had a kiln at home in Newark.
“When I came back home, I started playing around,” she said of her work mixing and recycling old shards of stained glass, bottles, ceramics and other scraps.
Inspired by nature, she said she likes sending other people outside, too, by designing glassworks that can withstand the elements and beautify any garden.
“I put a lot of mirrors in my work. It reflects the sun, so you get all these shimmers,” Kelly said.
She builds her works using cement, fiberglass and ceramics. The high-fired projects can handle the annual freezing and thawing.
In Bethany, people can buy Kelly’s wall art, birdbaths, benches, tuffets (garden stools) and “twirly whirlies” (glass globes).
Back for her third festival, “I really enjoy it because I like the area, and it’s so much fun being close to the beach,” Kelly said.
The wild, rustic designs of Appletree Creations
A simple wooden pull-toy was the start of something big for Elaine and Frank Valletta. Inspired by the simple wheeled toys of yesteryear, the Vallettas began an artful retirement almost 30 years ago.
After his career in education and with her background in art, they turned to their upstate New York farm for inspiration, hand-carving representations of the animals traditionally found on any farm.
“We had always made wooden gifts for people,” Elaine Valletta said. It was just natural progression to make it a business.
He does the major cutting, and she does the details, from the belt sander to the last layer of crackle paint and stenciling.
They started big but have since turned to a more charming size — figurines that are measured in inches, rather than feet.
After 9/11, they added a practical line of wooden animal-shaped boxes. The Holstein cow and fox boxes stand up on wooden legs, while the swan box sits on its bottom.
“They all have a little knob that’s another little animal on the top,” such as a bird sitting on the cow, Valletta said.
Appletree Creations will bring the whole menagerie to Bethany Beach, from lackadaisical farm animals (pigs, rabbits, sheep) to serene safari creatures (lions, giraffes, elephants).
Through the eyes of a photographer
Encouraged for several years to do some art shows, photographer Leigh Dwyer dipped her toes in the water at another boardwalk show earlier this year. She’s bringing back what shoppers like, excited to participate in her first Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival.
“It was such a positive experience, getting the feedback from people on my work, which has actually helped motivate me for future work,” said Dwyer, a Virginian who summers in South Bethany. “If you don’t get out there and show your stuff, you really don’t know how people feel about it and respond to it.”
A good photo can start a conversation.
“People who really enjoy photography like to share their experiences,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer already has an image of Little Assawoman Bay on display outdoors on Ocean Drive, part of the South Bethany Art Boards program.
She shoots a variety of subjects, local scenes and images from her worldwide travels. (She also does photo shoots for mothers-to-be, families and local surfers.)
She’ll bring framed and ready-to-hang works; unframed 12-by-18-inch and 16-by-24-inch prints; some notecards; and 5-by-7-inch matted prints, ready to be framed as 8-by-10s, “which are really nice little gift items.”
“There’s lots of variety of art and works, and something for everybody, whether you are looking for something to decorate your home or your garden or yourself,” she said of the jewelry on offer at the show. “Even if you are a non-shopper and just want to go look at the things, it’s just really nice, high-end, creative artwork. This is more … artisan-type. People have really talented works of art that they’re doing.”