Marlborough Downtown Village introduces outdoor art festival
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Less than a year after the Massachusetts Cultural Council approved the designation of the Marlborough Downtown Village Cultural District, the area will host a Village Art Festival with activities taking place from Union Common to Monument Square and several spots in between. Presented by Marlborough Downtown Village (MDV), the first-time event will be held Sunday, Sept. 1, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Artists of any medium are invited to exercise their creativity outdoors at the downtown pocket parks and other landmarks. The public is welcomed to observe the creation of artwork in progress. Serving as event producer is Marlborough artist and historian Susan Alatalo.
“The business community especially wants artists to bring attention to the beauty and importance of the downtown area,” she said. “No matter what changes have occurred in recent times, there’s always that central location and the feeling of a village, where people gravitate toward.”
Alatalo is a longtime advocate of the city’s downtown. As the young adult librarian at Marlborough Public Library from 1988 through 2004, she conducted historic walking tours with students from the Marlborough Public Schools and Immaculate Conception School. Among her responsibilities as publicist and outreach coordinator for the River’s Edge Arts Alliance from 2005 through 2010 was to manage and host the Saturday Morning Discovery Series held at Union Common, the Walker Building and the Marlborough Senior Center.
“Marlborough is lucky to have so many nooks and crannies with hidden treasures that are visually interesting,” she said. “Plein air painters and sketch artists can make a piece of artwork from these architectural and historical details.”
Members of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRCC) will circulate the cultural district as a strolling hospitality committee.
“Chamber members will bring refreshments to the artists, answer questions and see if anybody needs anything,” Alatalo explained.
The festival will also feature performance artists including Marlborough guitarist Mike Pascarella with his musical friends from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Walker Building gazebo. Across the street, Nancy Opp of Hudson will demonstrate fashion sketching in front of Giorgi’s Boutique. The local band Flashback will present rock classics from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of City Hall, where an information booth will offer maps of the cultural district.
“We’re serenading, romancing and welcoming these artists like it’s a mini-artists-in-residence,” Alatalo said. “All they have to do is create their artwork.”
For children and teens, chalk art will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the parking lot next to the Old Firehouse, now Vin Bin.
“Chalk art shouldn’t be just for little kids; it really can be for any age,” noted Alatalo, who currently teaches art for all ages at the Post Road Art Center. “When I’m teaching art, I love seeing their paintings or drawings change within minutes. It’s like time-lapsed photography. It’s really exciting.”
Festival guests can also view artwork displayed in vacant store windows, which is organized year-round by MDV.
The festival will conclude with a wet paint exhibit and artists’ critique from 1:30 to 2 p.m. at Union Common.
If it rains, most activities will be covered by tents.
Artists have the option of checking potential downtown sites to paint or draw beforehand by taking a walking tour, which Alatalo will lead Sunday, Aug. 18, starting at 11 a.m. at Main Street Café, 182 Main Street.
To help the festival run smoothly, artist registration is strongly recommended in advance. Free registration forms are available at the MRCC office at 11 Florence Street, or by email at SusanAlatalo@yahoo.com.
For information about Marlborough Downtown Village, visit discovermarlborough.org.
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