Halifax Art Map Society’s Keith McPhail interviewed Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts’ Debbie Smith, an organizer, member of the Festival Board of Directors and participating artist who works in acrylic paint (stylized landscapes and realism), about this year’s celebration of art in the St. Margaret’s Bay area.KM: What was the impetus behind the Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts (PCAFA), and how long has it been running?
DS: This is the twelfth year of the Festival. It has blossomed over the years to what now includes three signature events during the Festival: Paint Peggy’s Cove – a plein air activity - with 40 artists painting live over the weekend at Peggy’s Cove, the Studio Tour event which features 70 artists this year, and then there is the Opening Night that has a sampling exhibition of work and is a way for artists to meet each other and have some fun. All these components add together to help achieve the ultimate goal – which was the original impetus behind the Festival – of showcasing and celebrating the creativity within the local communities. And while this is a small area, there are a lot of talented artists who reside here - and - we have an iconic site in Peggy’s Cove within our midst.
KM: What encourages artists to participate, in what ways, and are there any criteria or requirements of them?
DS: The main reason for artists to participate is to show their work. The main ways to do that are not just through these three Festival signature events. There are member events throughout the year, for example this year we had the Solstice Event at the deGarthe Garage in Peggy’s Cove, and other kinds of member events that generate small exhibits throughout the year, such as monthly exhibitions in the Festival Information Centre, which is in the Upper Tantallon cross-roads area, for member artists.
The criteria for being members is simply an interest in art. Anyone can be a member of the Festival, however, to be eligible for our Studio Tour, you must live in our catchment area. That encompasses St. Margaret’s Bay, Prospect Bay, Terrance Bay, and in towards Hammonds Plains. Should you not live in our area, you are able to participate in other Festival events.
KM: What can the public expect to find this year?
DS: They will find a whole lot of mediums this year. In the Studio Tour we’ve got artists across many disciplines: painters, potters, woodworkers, fibre artists, glassmakers, jewellers, photographers; there’s a lot of variety and some really high quality work. There will be artwork and price-points for everyone. The Studio Tour is not a juried show (we are very inclusive), but there are some very talented people in this region – so that’s what people can expect.
The Information Centre (in Tantallon) is a small location; however, we’ve always got work there and this year we have a little sampling of the Studio Tour locations’ exhibits – and it is easy to find with flags and markers up if you are driving through.
And Paint Peggy’s Cove this year is going to be fun – so far looking like good weather – and we have 39 artists participating, so it will be a nice event with the newly constructed viewing platform out there, so it is a great day’s trip for sure.
KM: How can art buyers interact with artists and make purchases?
DS: In the studios buyers can make a purchase from the artist directly – there is no gallery fee so all the proceeds go to the artist. The same applies to work purchased at the Information Centre. Interacting with artists is absolutely why we encourage people to attend these events; you get to meet the artists firsthand, and at Peggy’s Cove you get to see the artists painting works that you can later purchase. In the Studio Tour you are right there, talking to the artists in their studios where they make their art – and the interaction between visitor and artist is better than you would get in a gallery.
In Peggy’s Cove we have two places where art can be purchased. Studio Paintings can be bought in the deGarthe Garage – which is across the street from the yurt, where the ‘wet’ paintings which are done on site during Paint Peggy’s Cove are exhibited and sold.
KM: What is your message to Festivalgoers this year?
DS: Watch for our signs: they are big blue signs that say “Celebrate Art”; and that’s our message to people. Come celebrate art! There’s a lot of work to see - something for every palate and every price point, for every buyer. With Paint Peggy’s Cove you get to experience art being made while you enjoy an icon location. And, especially with the Studio Tour, you get to explore and discover some beautiful coastlines and communities - and at the same time see some great artwork!
Paint Peggy’s Cove (plein air event): July 8,9,10
Studio Tour: July 15, 16, 17
Be sure to visit the Studio Tour Guide online at halifaxartmap.com, under Festivals, to plan your tour.