Charlie Hall: NP ready for its first art festival, set for this weekend

Charlie Hall: NP ready for its first art festival, set for this weekend

Artist and funnyman Charlie Hall, right, “paints” a portrait of North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi in preparation for an actual painting of the mayor at this coming Sunday’s Art in the Park celebration in Gov. Notte Park.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Mayor Charles Lombardi was “shooting the breeze” with funnyman and artist Charlie Hall one night in the mayor’s driveway when Hall suggested the idea of starting a North Providence arts festival.

“Charlie’s a neighbor and he came to me with the proposal and I said, let’s go with it,” said Lombardi.

The inaugural North Providence Art in the Park will be held at Notte Park/Camp Meehan, 1801 Douglas Ave., this Sunday, Oct. 15, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The free, family-friendly event will feature artists, crafters, photographers, jewelry makers, kids crafts and face painters, food trucks, entertainment and more.

“I thought it was a great project to not only showcase local artists but to get the town’s residents out to see what we’ve accomplished at the (Camp Meehan) site,” said Lombardi.

A highlight of the day, said Hall, will be painting Lombardi’s portrait, with help from the community, on a “giant” 5-foot by 4-foot canvas. Residents will have the chance to paint a brush stroke to help complete the portrait, said Hall, and he will “tie it up at the end” to make it look like the mayor.

Lombardi named Hall the festival’s honorary chairman.

“Why should Wickford and Scituate have all the fun?” joked Hall, who has lived in North Providence for more than 30 years. “I say the town is a bastion of creativity – especially if you consider hairdressing an art.”

Hall said he came up with the idea for a town art festival as he watched other communities across the state host successful arts events year after year. Some people don’t associate arts and culture with North Providence, he said, but he felt he could help dispel that notion by hosting an event highlighting the artists here. The event is also open to artists from across the state.

The North Providence resident said he was impressed with the Camp Meehan property when he visited last summer during a comedy show he performed at a Lombardi campaign event for senior citizens. What Lombardi and the town did to acquire the property, saving it from a condo development, as well as to rehabilitate it, has made a beautiful property even more of a gem, he said.

Hall jokes that he might be a little too optimistic about North Providence fully embracing an art festival. Four or five years ago, he opened an art gallery of his own across from Burger King on Mineral Spring Avenue. Charlie Hall’s Art Gallery was open for about four or five months, he said, but no matter how hard he tried to get people to come in and look at his art, no one would bite. He said he couldn’t even get the attention of the people who were passing in front to go to the neighboring hair salon.

“They wouldn’t even look in my window to see what was going on,” he said, laughing.

Many of Hall’s paintings from his basement will be featured at Sunday’s festival, available for purchase. Works from other artists will also be available.

Sunday’s festival is designed, in part, to show that North Providence has a community event beyond St. Anthony’s Feast where people can meet, said Hall. Residents are invited to come see the artists and have some fun, he said.

Unlike other art festivals, Hall will provide a running commentary with a microphone, all to “highlight what’s going on” while injecting some humor into the day.

Hall said he’s grateful to the many town employees who came alongside him to help plan the event, including members of the Recreation Department.

Spearheading the organizing committee is Recreation Department Director Lois Barbieri who said that if the weather cooperates Art in the Park should be a big success.

“It’s not just a bunch of paintings for sale either; we have some eclectic vendors displaying their wares like Jingle Jangle Jewelry, Nancy’s Fancies Fashion, and Rachyl’s Goat Milk Soap,” she said. Nearly 50 artists and vendors had signed up by this week.

Lombardi said he hopes to make this an annual event.

“I think this kind of event taking place in our scenic park surrounded by the autumn colors will be one of North Providence’s highlights of the year,” he said.

The festival might grow so big “that we’ll have to stage it up and down Mineral Spring Avenue, which shouldn’t affect traffic at all,” quipped Hall.

Food vendors for Sunday’s event include Macray’s Seafood, Saugy Inc., Gabbs Family Kettle Corn, and Friskie Fries.

Other vendors include Anthony’s Copper Works, Savage Art, Lamb, Dogues Gallery, Rita G’s Accessories, Aloneintown, Cumberland Artists Alliance, Larry Petrosinelli, Jasmine Alquassar, Felt Mythical, Cathy Dempsey, BC Crochet Creations, Nancy’s Fancies Fashion, Round Trip Clay Works, Pepper-painting, Double Button, Mordan’s Art Compilation, Horned Hare Studios, Phyllis Minutelli, DaVinci Center, Design WhatHaveYou, Jess Repose/Chelsea Fredrikson, Adriana Mitrelis, RobJ Creations, Wrapped in Lvoe, Crazy Over Art, Rachyl’s Goal Milk Soap, Usborne Books & More, Blue Dragonfly, Zach Prosser, Zoodle Doodles, Joanne Mazzotta, Sylwester Borecki, Jingle Jangle Jewelry, Rita Maher, Kristy Wang, MBH Products LLC, Nikki Bond, Charlie Hall, Pippin Orchard, Therese Palleschi, We Be Jammin’, Scentsy, Megan Thomas, Tiffany Landry, Wholestic Essence, and Pawpetual Pins.

Comments

Great idea! Nice to see a family event like this! I am wondering though....

Will they hang the Mayor's portrait at the Senior Center?
If it is hung in the new Police Station would it be a close brush with the law?
If the Mayor's painting is not too flattering will it leave him bristled?
If the artist becomes fatigued, would it be due to having too many strokes?
And finally, why did Van Gogh become a painter and not a musician....he just didn't have the ear for music...

It is great that North Providence will once again have an art festival. Contrary to Mr. Hall's belief, this is not the first art festival in the town. During the 1980's and into the early 1990's, the nonprofit North Providence Art Association held a juried arts and crafts festival at Governor Notte Park during the month of September. I wish Mr. Hall's group great success in this endeavor.