Sawdust Art Festival preview night draws crowd

Sawdust guests walk past multi-media artwork by Sherry Bullard on Preview Night, June 21, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

Tasmin McGill, Special to the Independent

As the Sawdust Art Festival enters its first weekend of the season, it held preview night on June 21 to show guests what they can expect this summer.

Although the gates opened at 6 p.m. the line to enter stretched down the block. Neighbors waved to each other, laughing and commenting “long time no see.” The excitement was palpable.

Entering through the doors, it feels as if it’s another world. Shops of all shapes and sizes selling handmade jewelry, clothing, ceramics, and painting dot the area. Every shop has its own unique design and layout welcoming friends and family in to celebrate another season at the Sawdust Festival.

Jason and Nicole McQuaid present McQuaid Glass which showcases the one-of-a-kind mixed media pieces created by Nicole with Jason’s help.

“She never reproduces,” Jason said. “These are glass pieces that we actually make from sand, and she makes a mold and then I help her ladle the glass with a huge ladle at 2,000 degrees. It cools real slow like over 12 hours.”

Nicole then mounts the glass on different objects she finds. The pieces showcased at this year’s Sawdust are mounted on curved steel that naturally rusted over time. Jason is displaying pieces of melded glasses inspired by prickly pears and barrel cactus. Displayed alongside the plant are clamshell pieces.

“We’ve done a lot of shapes over the years. The clamshell I like because we use our signature star for it,” Jason said pointing to the star at the base of the bowls.

After three hours, the McQuaids sold three pieces already.

Multi-media art from the McQuaid booth on June 21, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

Glasswork was a popular theme throughout the Festival.

Quinn Harmon displayed reusable glass straws, Alex Fritz Glass showcased wine bottle toppers and drinkware and Muffin Spencer-Devlin displayed unique pieces that incorporate the cremains of clients’ loved ones into glassware.

Mary Ann Guerra has displayed work at the Sawdust summer and winter festivals over the past eight and 11 seasons respectively.

“I love what I do. Every day I wake up, I’m going to work and I feel so excited about it. I love seeing people step into my booth to see my work,” Guerra said. “Whether they purchase it for themselves or for a friend which is a really beautiful thing to be able to share with extended family.”

A glass piece by Sawdust artist Muffin Spencer-Devlin during Preview Night on June 21, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

Clothing and accessories were also plentiful on the festival grounds.

Paul Proppe and his leather handbags and accessories shop brought customers in to try on the pieces. Large and small handbags were slung over shoulders and modeled in mirrors at all angles. A small dressing room was installed in the corner of MLance Design’s booth so customers can try on the unique pieces displayed.

Brynne Cogorno was back at Sawdust with her shop, Backward Prints. Displayed in her shop are women’s and children’s clothes and tea towels with screen-printed designs. Typically sold online only, Cogorno is excited to be back at Sawdust.

From glassware to clothing and accessories are furniture pieces. Richard Goodman is back for his third year at Sawdust.

“I did this in 2004 when I first started working bamboo,” Goodman said. “I have a passion to build things. My shop is things I have created, seen in my mind and I make my hands make them.”

Cliff Wassmann created another main attraction, Jurassic Dust. Taking paintings as old as 10 years, Wassmann incorporates his love for Sci-Fi and Star Wars to create new and interesting pieces.

Sawdust artist Joan Gladstone sits with her paintings after sunset on June 21, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

This season marks the second year Joan Gladstone has had her shop at the Sawdust. After growing up near the beach and Coney Island, the beach left a lasting impression on Gladstone. Once she started painting full-time, she found her inspiration in the oceans of Southern California and her hometown.

What’s really welcoming about the festival is the fact that everyone seems to know each other and enjoys art.

“What I really love is developing friendships, so there’s a sense of camaraderie and understanding of what we’re all doing,” Gladstone said.

Cliff Wassmann incorporates his love for Sci-Fi and Star Wars to create new and interesting pieces at the Jurassic Dust booth on June 21, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill
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