Booming weekend for art in Wassaic
WASSAIC â€” It looked like just about everyone caught The Wassaic Project fever last weekend, as the free arts festival celebrated its third year from Aug. 13 to 15 in the center of the Wassaic hamlet.
More than 80 artists, 25 bands and a slew of poets, dancers and filmmakers made up the wide variety of talent on display in several prominent Wassaic buildings, centered around the former grain house Maxon Mills.
Event co-director Bowie Zunino estimated that several thousand visitors made their way to Wassaic for the event over the weekend, including a good number who took full advantage and set up tents in the field next to the old Luther Auction Barn, where artist residencies have been held all summer.
â€œIt was a lot of fun,â€ said Tim Rand, who was taking down his tent with the help of his girlfriend, Ashly Simmons, on Sunday morning. Both took the Metro-North train line up to Wassaic (their first time taking the train all the way to the end of the line) from New York City.
â€œI would definitely come back next year,â€ Simmons said. â€œIt was worth it.â€
In addition to the art, there was also a plethora of foods to keep visitors from going hungry; what looked like an ice cream truck with a big American flag hanging off the side was selling boiled crayfish all weekend. And there was an unattended wagon trailer with a sign for â€œHonourâ€™s Farmâ€ with dozens of jars of fruit jams with an honor system of paying what you could afford.
â€œThey all look good,â€ said Marc Richardson of Katonah, who was picking out the right jar for his familyâ€™s lunch with his 3-year-old son, Anthony.
The Richardsons were at the festival last year and were excited to see another good turnout for 2010.
â€œI think itâ€™s great,â€ the father said. â€œItâ€™s free and there are just enough off-the-beaten-path pieces to keep the kids interested, like the cardboard.â€
That cardboard was the brainchild of local artist, Henry Klimowicz. His installation took up the entire top floor of Maxon Mills, covering every square inch in corrugated cardboard shapes that several people said gave the impression of being in the middle of a giant bee hive.
Even if the vast majority of visitors were from the city or its greater metropolitan area, Wassaic residents got in the spirit as well, with a few young local children taking the entrepreneurial opportunity to set up lemonade stands. And in a gesture of good will, the festival had a special sneak peek for local residents the night before the festival actually began. That evening raised money for the Wassaic Fire Company and highlighted the local artists featured in the show.
The art itself was all over the map, from a series of pieces inspired by doughnuts to a pile of firewood that had mirrors taped to the ends, making it seem like the logs were hollow.
â€œI donâ€™t know what to make of a lot of it,â€ admitted Frank Ingrim, who said that he and his wife just happened to be driving along Route 22 and were intrigued by signs advertising the event along the road. It was the first art show in â€œmany yearsâ€ for the elderly couple, and they said that it was nice to see that the whole thing was free for the community.
â€œItâ€™s probably a good thing that I donâ€™t get it,â€ he added with a chuckle. â€œMy father couldnâ€™t stand Elvis.â€