Melinda Byrd has been a featured artist at Westminster’s Art in the Park for 11 years. It was one of the first venues in which she showcased her art after establishing her Woodbine-based business, Byrdcall Studio, 12 years ago.
“It’s one of my better shows,” Byrd said. “And because I have a lot of friends all over, it’s like a homecoming. It’s fun to show off a little bit about what I’ve done and how I’ve developed.”
While Byrd may be a veteran artist at Art in the Park, which is held during the first Saturday of June at Westminster City Grounds, the event has been happening for around 30 years according to Susan Williamson, visual arts coordinator for the Carroll County Arts Center.
“Artists come from the tri-state area,” she said. “We have artists from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It’s catching on more with Baltimore and Fredrick artists, and artists that live in the Gettysburg area. It’s a variety of painting, photography, print-making, jewelry, ceramics, all hand-made art.”
Williamson said that the only criterion of the festival is that the art is hand-made, which she said helps connect the purchaser to the original artist.
“I think it’s important that even if a person buys a card that’s hand-made or hand-painted, they’re buying a work of art,” she said. “And from a young age, it’s important to teach children and reeducate adults about the value of a hand-made work of art, and that it holds its value much longer than the one purchased at Pier 1 or Wal-Mart or any other place.”
She also said Art in the Park not only allows artists to connect with the patrons, but different artists to connect with each other.
Amy Svec, a newly-established artist in Littlestown, Pa., started her business Spiral Vision Studio in January. She said that Art in the Park is only her second show, but that it allowed her to build connections to the community.
“The quality and variety of the work is excellent,” she said. “I met a Littlestown artist who is introducing me to a Hanover guild. It’s been an excellent place for networking.”
As an artist, Williamson said that one of the highest compliments an artist can receive is when one artist purchases another’s work, which does happen at the festival.
“The artists are surprised how many talented artists there are,” she said. “There’s a great camaraderie among them too, they’re talking to each other across booths, they’re looking at each other’s work. For example, a painter might look at another’s work and compliment a technique or the palette that they’re using.”
Byrd said while she does get to know the artists in the neighboring booths, she aspect she enjoys most about the festival is connecting to the patrons who visit her.
“There’s a cooperative spirit,” she said. “But it’s better for the visitors because they get to talk to everyone. And even if I don’t sell anything, I go home feeling like everyone really liked my work, and that makes me feel good.”