Sellers' tents on Worcester's Park Avenue, seen from Elm Park
Last Sunday, another perfect fall day, I went to take a look at “StART on the Street” along with nearly 50,000 shoppers eager to see the art and handicrafts produced by some 300 artists who were all displaying their wares on Park Avenue in Worcester, MA. StART on the Street, which began with a handful of local artists and crafts people ten years ago, has grown into the largest Arts festival in Central Massachusetts… and maybe the country?
Looking at the dizzying variety of things for sale, all created by the person who was selling them, started me thinking about the nearly universal drive to create art, which seems to blossom in people once they have taken care of basic needs like food and shelter. This creative urge finds outlets in so many ways. Lots of my women friends, once their kids leave the nest, have re-discovered their longing to paint, or sew, design jewelry, write a book or take piano lessons... things you don’t have time to do when you’re in charge of children and a home and maybe an office job as well. Men have the same creative urge, but may express it in different ways, like woodcarving or designing fishing flies or a model railroad (and of course painting, music and photography.)
Last week I posted about walking along another Park Avenue—on the east side of Manhattan --and photographing art by world-famous artists, but at StART on the Street on Worcester’s Park Avenue, I was moved by the energy and dedication of these local artists who create in so many different ways, devoting their nights and weekends, because nearly all of them, unless they’re retired, have a “real job” as well.
I saw dozens of artists selling their paintings or photographs or pottery or weaving, but here are some of the non-traditional artists who caught my eye.
This young man makes things out of hemp coffee bags, and also turns out “super ukuleles made from repurposed cigar boxes and broken skateboard decks.” He’s at www.birdmen.etsy.com.
Jen Niles does lovely folk-arty paintings of cat and dogs and will make a personalized memorial painting of your deceased pet.. www.JenNilesArt.com
The busiest booth I saw was KD Wind Spirals, where a couple, originally from New Zealand, had nearly sold out of their creations, which ranged from $35 to $64. The aluminum- tubing spirals turn in the wind and the glass balls appear to move up and down but never fall off. www.etsy.com/shop/KDWindSpirals.
This man creates weather-proof birdfeeders from teacups, saucers and spoons—they attach to a rod to stand in the garden.
The Gravestone Girls make art by rubbing the Colonial slate gravestones they find in New England cemeteries and selling the rubbings to hang.
I saw several blacksmiths and people who created art out of iron, and quite a few of them were women.
I bought these soft baby shoes for my granddaughter from Meghan Bergstrom who makes clothes and shoes “for hip kids.” www.etsy.com/shop/edieandfin.
There were hooked rugs and knitted creations galore.
Painted silk scarves
Carved wood goblets and bowls
Participatory wall murals
And loads of food trucks with every kind of New England culinary delight.
Art isn’t just what you make with your hands. There were physical arts on display:
And a variety of bands and singers all day long
Play areas and crafts for children
And pumpkins to take home.
Worcester, once a bustling metropolis during the height of the industrial revolution, has now been given a number of ironic nicknames like “Wormtown” and “The Paris of the Eighties”, but every year, when it comes alive with art and music and the excitement of “StART on the Street” it’s clear that the city is an important center for art and culture that becomes more exciting every year.