Mystic Outdoor Art Festival

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

I’ve been a little sad this week, stumbling across a few painful reminders of losses in the past. One reminder was a deeply moving blog post, Silent Death-Alzheimer’s Disease story-1988, with striking photos that hit so close to home, bringing back memories of my grandmother’s decline and reminding me of what my father is going through now.

The idea of crowds and heat and humidity gave me a bit of pause, but today we ventured out to the 54th annual Mystic Outdoor Art Festival. We were lucky to find a parking spot we didn’t have to pay for and it was not too long a walk to the first booth.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The festival is a professionally juried outdoor art show, with booths for over 250 artists and over 60 crafters to display their works lining the streets of historic Mystic. One must cross over the Mystic River on a bascule drawbridge (above and below) to get from East Main Street to West Main Street in Mystic.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Before we got too far I fell in love with an oil painting of a cat sitting on a chair looking out the window, called “Oliver’s View” by Kimberley Scoble. The artist told me she painted the scene first and then Oliver cooperated by jumping on to the chair and sitting there for twenty minutes looking at something intently, the way cats do.

Because we were at an art show I was totally unprepared for a booth a few spots down for the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation. As a kind breast cancer survivor was explaining about the Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut coming up on October 1st I got all choked up and then the tears started. I explained to her that my mother died of breast cancer twenty years ago… I don’t know if this is menopause making me so sensitive… I’m kind of surprised that it hit me like that.

Tim took me away and comforted me as I collected some pamphlets. It took me a while to regain my composure. Now that I’m home I’m thinking maybe the universe is telling me it’s time to get involved in a cause that is obviously so dear to my heart. The woman said if we couldn’t walk the quarter marathon (6.55 miles) we could take part by being in a cheering section. And in October heat and humidity probably wouldn’t be a reason for concern…

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Anyhow, we went on to see many beautiful oil paintings, watercolors, photography, pastels, sculpture, acrylics, pottery, metalwork and crafts. Most were way out of our price range, and many had signs forbidding the taking of pictures. But we did buy some very refreshing all-natural frozen lemonade!

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

On March 6, 2000, there was a fire at the shops on 18-22 West Main Street in Mystic which burned them to the ground. Every plan proposed to rebuild the site has been rejected for one reason or another and it remains as the fire left it. A wall was erected to hide the empty spot, but there are some holes cut out of it for people to look through. For the festival, the wall has been decorated with children’s art.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Another treat was some lovely music we heard before we found the source. This woman was playing an ancient Chinese stringed instrument, a guzheng.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

We stopped at the local free-range chicken farm on our way home, and at a farmer’s market for tomatoes, eggplant, squash and cherries. I’m looking forward to autumn and apples – I’ve had enough of summer!

27 thoughts on “Mystic Outdoor Art Festival”

  1. Those pesky tears seem to come unbidden at the most unexpected times. I find that they hit me hard, then I don’t feel quite the same for the rest of the day. It takes a good night’s sleep to feel a bit back to normal. People tell me that grief will go away-it just gets buried a bit under the day-to-day stuff. It pops out when it is feeling neglected.
    Maybe cheering on runners will do you good. Or find someone to sponsor and cheer for that person specifically. Races are a fun place-I don’t run, but cheer for my son or my sister when they race.

    1. Thank you for your kind and comforting thoughts… I usually find myself mourning anew on the anniversary of Mom’s death — and also when my sons got married and when my daughter got her degrees — but I think this is the first time I was overcome in a public place where no one else was crying. (Lots of people are tearing up at graduations and weddings — and I suspect many of them are tears for those who are missing.) I do feel better today!

      I think cheering on the walkers and sponsoring one might be healing, as you suggest. That’s wonderful that you cheer for your son and your sister when they race for their chosen causes! I never knew that was an option before.

  2. Hi,
    I love going to places like this, and seeing all the different arts, I love your photo of the Lady playing the instrument which I haven’t seen before, looks really interesting, I’ll have to see if there is a video of one on You Tube, as I would love to hear what they sound like.

    1. It is fun going to fairs and festivals – I just wish the sun wasn’t beating down on us so much! Thank you for posting the guzheng music, Mags – I enjoyed listening to it again, so to speak! 🙂

  3. Great post Barbara. Love the pictures, love the story, love the idea of walking across a draw bridge to a street art exhibition, love that it’s their 54th art exhibition, and love the tears for your Mum – I celebrate your love for her.

    Thanks for the music Mags. I listened to it while I writing my comment. Lovely

  4. Ohhhhh, this post brought back sweet memories of my trip to Mystic well over a decade ago. While there I purchased a replica of a deck prism at the maritime museum which we use as a “night light” in the living room.

    I had no idea about the devastating fire.

    1. Oh yes, the gift shop at Mystic Seaport is a place I could browse for hours and have bought many gifts for family and friends there. Your deck prism sounds like a very cool night light! 🙂 As you can probably imagine, the Seaport is one of my favorite places on earth!

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your tears and your precious time at the festival. To hold all of the mixed emotions–and more–in our ever-deepening and softening heart seems to be what it’s all about. Namaste, Barbara.

    1. Your words are very comforting to me, Kathy. So many times we’re told that having a soft heart or being soft-hearted is a negative thing — it’s encouraging that you and many others know differently. Namaste, dear friend…

  6. I’m sorry to hear about your father. There is no easy way to deal with Alzheimers. I pray for your strength as well as for your fathers health. The outdoor Art is fun, inspiring to look at. A great way to clear our minds from worries.

    1. Thank you, island traveler… Life is full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, difficult situations and good times. My father used to say, whenever we had to mourn the loss of a pet, “Remember the good times, the memories will help you through the sad times.” In his way he taught us ahead of time how to get through this. Art and music are indeed wonderful healers.

  7. Tears are like that, coming when they think it’s necessary rather than when we think it is.

    When I was very young I used to think that growing old would be the worst part of growing old. Little did I know that watching others (grandparents, parents, etc.) grow old before me would be the hard part. Cancer, dementia, heart disease, death. It’s depressing. But it’s also a part of life, and I’ve learned how important it is to spend time with and treasure those I love.

    The Festival looks wonderful. 🙂

    1. It’s probably a good thing we don’t know so much about what lies ahead of us when we’re children. I still feel like an orphan even twenty years after my mom died. It’s the circle of life and we all will have our share of necessary losses. I’ve learned the same thing you have, to treasure every precious moment with loved ones now.

      The festival was wonderful and now that I’m home and cooled off I can appreciate the memory of it all the more!

      1. awww, Barbara…I am a bit choked up with grief thinking about you still feeling like an orphan these many years past. I can’t imagine losing my mother. Yet it will happen sooner or later. Wishing that you could have had your mom for more years, but the circle of life will have its way with us and we cannot know…

        1. Thanks so much for the sympathy, Kathy… I suspect we feel like orphans at any age when we lose a parent. And then I think of my elderly grandparents, who bravely bore the grief of losing their only daughter.

          There’s a scene in the “Lord of the Rings” that always makes me cry, when Theoden is burying his son. He holds a white flower that grew on the burial mounds of the Kings and says: “Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas, that these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger. That I should live to see the last days of my house. … No parent should have to bury their child.”

      2. So true, Barbara (about the not knowing what lies ahead). I know what you mean about feeling like an orphan. My mother died almost two years ago (it will be two years in September). It’s been a strange thing, not having a mother. I miss her, very much. Hugs to you.

        There should be a cold front coming your way, helping to cool things off. We went down into the 60s today and our weather usually heads your way. 🙂

        1. I can imagine how much you miss your mother, Robin. I remember how many times I used to pick up the phone to call my mom, only to put it down again. Even twenty years later I’ll catch myself thinking that something I see in a store would be a perfect gift for her… Hugs to you, too.

          We did get a cold front, and a huge rainstorm, a nor’easter! We got 4.7 inches of rain in two days and it was delightfully raw and damp. I love a good storm, as long as it doesn’t get too violent!

  8. I always enjoyed Mystic and regret only making it to the art show once! I enjoyed your post and memories from the village (Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream!) and the show. It’s a shame about the fire and that they haven’t been able to come up with a plan for such a long time.

    I understand your tears. My mother passed away from breast cancer in 1994, and my grandmother and aunt had Alzheimer’s. Thoughts and prayers going your way!

    1. It’s amazing how many families have been touched by dementia, cancer, diabetes and heart disease… So sorry about your mom – it’s an emotional roller-coaster ride, as I’m sure you well know. Thanks for understanding the tears – they caught me completely off guard.

      We were “good” that day and resisted all temptation to stop at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream! 🙂 Don’t know if we could resist it a second time… The frozen lemonade placated me. The art was amazing – I wished they would let us take some pictures of it, but I do understand why they wouldn’t. Lots and lots of nautical things – one man even used some portholes from ship salvage as frames for his small oil paintings of sailboats…

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