It started out a rainy morning, but around 11am the clouds began to part, revealing the late-spring sun. No one was happier to see an end to the rain then the crafters working the 35th Annual Coolidge Corner Arts Festival at Devotion School this past Saturday. Chihiro Makio of 314 Studio in Somerville, who stood behind a glass case containing pieces of her "Flora" origami jewelry series, was relieved. "It's not pouring!" she said with a smile.
Around noon the popular craft showcase and food festival was certainly getting foot traffic. Lea Cohen, Chairman of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce and one of the event organizers, reported that about 3-4 thousand people attended the Coolidge Corner Arts Festival.
First-time exhibitor Sarah Caruso of East Falmouth had two admirers eyeing her work, red, blue, and turquoise ceramic bowls, mugs, and serving platters etched with images of crayfish and ribbons of seaweed. Caruso explained to one potential customer that she used a technique called sgraffito, which translates as "Italian scratch." Colored slips are applied to leather-hard clay, and the images are incised and carved into each piece. The results are both beautiful and functional.
Amy Keller's booth was also doing steady business. Keller and her company, Bumble Belly Designs, have been exhibiting at the festival for the past four years. Keller told me that The Coolidge Corner Arts Festival was one of her favorite shows.
"The people that run it are very organized," she said, "and the buyers are interested and engaged in our craft."
Keller’s mixed media prints are vintage-inspired depictions of children and animals, drawn and embedded in encaustic wax, lending a look of depth to each layered image. “I just got back from an encaustic art conference in P-Town,” Keller remarked to a customer who was buying several of her pieces.
Karen Mahoney of North Grafton was shielding her eyes from the sun in large black sunglasses as she spoke of the college art classes she took in Wyoming that inspired her to pursue her own full-time business, City by the Sea Ceramics. Mahoney spends a lot of time showing her work at craft festivals—she’s participated in 38 of them just in the past year. Raku, a Japanese style traditionally used in tea ceremonies, is one of the inspirations for Mahoney’s pottery.
In addition to the 75 craft stalls assembled in a circle on the Devotion School’s front lawn, there was concurrently a local food tasting happening. $2 tasting tickets were selling swiftly as hungry shoppers bought four or five at a time. All proceeds will benefit the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry. Local restaurants like Olecito, Fireplace, Lineage, Zaftig’s, and The Regal Beagle offered sample bites of everything from pita with fresh hummus to blueberry crumble to strawberry lemonade.
Area newcomer Whole Foods gave out goat cheese and jam on crackers, lemon and garlic olives, and bite-sized pieces of Italian cheese and salami.
“This is our first event outside the (Brookline) store,” said J.P. Sciouille, a newly-hired Whole Foods Marketing Specialist. “I love it!” he added, referring to the event. Judging from the full tables and the overflow of people sitting and eating on the sidelines, he wasn’t the only one enjoying himself.
See more photo hightlights here.
Rene Feuerman, Director of the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry, reported raising close to $6,000 from raffle and tasting ticket sales. "We are very happy with that number," Feuerman said, adding, "We are very grateful to all 15 restaurants that participated."
~ Jennifer Campaniolo (article and photos)