2012-08-17 / Front Page

Art in the Park:

smiles abound despite rain
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Erica Pappalardo of South Portland and her daughter Sophia, 3, look out on the pond in Mill Creek Park at the 33rd annual Art in the Park, held on Sunday, Aug. 12. Pappalardo said her daughter enjoyed the Kids in the Park event, which included sand art, face painting and music from Rick Charette. “I grew up listening to him,” Pappalardo said of Charette, “so it was a blast from the past to bring her.” (Jack Flagler photo) Erica Pappalardo of South Portland and her daughter Sophia, 3, look out on the pond in Mill Creek Park at the 33rd annual Art in the Park, held on Sunday, Aug. 12. Pappalardo said her daughter enjoyed the Kids in the Park event, which included sand art, face painting and music from Rick Charette. “I grew up listening to him,” Pappalardo said of Charette, “so it was a blast from the past to bring her.” (Jack Flagler photo) SOUTH PORTLAND —When South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey laid out the details of this year’s Art in the Park at an Aug. 6 City Council meeting, he added at the end of his communications to the council, “Hopefully the weather holds out again for us this year. It always seems as though it works out just fine for them.”

A superstitious person might say Gailey jinxed it.

Thunderstorms forced organizers of the 33rd annual Art in the Park to move the show from Saturday, Aug. 11 to Sunday, Aug. 12. A storm earlier in the week also made parts of Mill Creek Park too muddy for artists to set up tents so, at the last minute, organizers moved some artists to a stretch of Hinckley Drive alongside the park that was shut off to traffic Sunday afternoon.


Artist Page O’Rourke, from Yarmouth, and her husband Kevin sit in the display tent set up on Hinckley Drive for Art in the Park. Organizers moved certain artists to the street because some areas of the park were too muddy after rain hit in the days before Art in the Park. O’Rourke said the location worked well for her; Art in the Park was her best day of sales this summer. (Jack Flagler photo) Artist Page O’Rourke, from Yarmouth, and her husband Kevin sit in the display tent set up on Hinckley Drive for Art in the Park. Organizers moved certain artists to the street because some areas of the park were too muddy after rain hit in the days before Art in the Park. O’Rourke said the location worked well for her; Art in the Park was her best day of sales this summer. (Jack Flagler photo) But artists, guests and event organizers said the weather did not bring spirits down, and even another heavy storm that hit South Portland around 10 a.m. on the morning of the event could not get in the way of the show’s success.

Linda Eastman, chairman of the Art in the Park committee, said storms made the volunteer staff’s job “challenging and really stressful,” but the positive attitude from attendees and artists made life easier for the committee.

“People understood that you can’t control the weather. We couldn’t control the thunderstorms, and the artists were pleasant and agreeable and they understood and it’s been fine,” Eastman said.

When the rainstorm hit late Sunday morning, Eastman said volunteers had to scramble and “ran like mad” to take down work at the student art tent that was exposed to rain.

Eastman said many of the volunteers had to go home after the storm to change clothes. But despite the poor weather conditions, she said “the spirit of the event” shone through.

“This is a gift that the city of South Portland gives to its citizens, and it is all done by volunteers,” Eastman said.

Still, Eastman would prefer some better weather next year.

“Do I want a repeat? No, I don’t want a repeat,” she joked.


Beth Horsman of South Portland, left, and Rachel Ryan, a student at SMCC, browse through work at the Student Art Tent. Art in the Park volunteers had to scramble to take down students’ work on the outside of the tent before it got wet when a thunderstorm hit in the late morning on Sunday. (Jack Flagler photo) Beth Horsman of South Portland, left, and Rachel Ryan, a student at SMCC, browse through work at the Student Art Tent. Art in the Park volunteers had to scramble to take down students’ work on the outside of the tent before it got wet when a thunderstorm hit in the late morning on Sunday. (Jack Flagler photo)

Many of the 185 artists at the event said the rain did not have a huge effect on their business. Page O’Rourke of Yarmouth said she sold three of her acrylic landscape pieces when the worst of the storm hit, because a few people ducked into her tent hoping to escape the rain.

O’Rourke was one of the artists who was moved to the street along Hinckley Drive. She said the location was convenient because she could park directly beside her tent and customers who bought a painting could pull their car up as well. O’Rourke has participated in a few other art shows this summer, including the Yarmouth Clam Festival, and she said Art in the Park was her best single day of sales this year.

William Stewart of Saco also had his tent moved from the park to Hinckley Drive. He said when Eastman and the other committee members told him he’d be on the street instead of the muddy section of the park, he thought the new spot would be “fantastic.”


“It rained Thursday night really bad, and then it rained Friday night and so it was so mucky that nobody wants to walk over there (in the park).” Stewart said. “I don’t know why they didn’t shut off the street years before. This is really nice.”

Stewart took the day off from his job as a driver for AAA Northern New England to attend the show and display his photos, primarily of old trucks parked around Maine. Stewart said he sold six pieces at the event.

Art in the Park also included a food court that served hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches and more throughout the course of the day, and a “Kids in the Park” area that featured face painting, art projects and music from Rick Charette.

Erica Pappalardo of South Portland brought her daughter Sophia, 3, to the Charette concert.

“I grew up listening to him so it was a blast from the past,” Pappalardo said.

Revenue from the event, which comes from artists’ registration fees and donations from event sponsors, help finance future improvements to Mill Creek Park. In the past, Art in the Park has helped to fund construction of the gazebo, fountain and Greenbelt Walkway that runs through the park. Gailey said the city has not decided on a specific project that the 2012 revenues will fund, nor did he know the exact dollar amount raised this year.

Construction crews are close to completion of the current round of improvements to Mill Creek Park. Those include new paths around the pond, a new stone plaza that overlooks the pond on the Ocean Street side of the park and a more visitor-friendly area around the Veteran’s Green Memorial.

Although some construction vehicles were visible in the park and one area near Broadway and Ocean Street was blocked off entirely, construction otherwise did little to disrupt the day’s events.

“It’s going to look great when they’re done with it,” said Kevin Lomangino of South Portland, who brought his son Leo, 6, and daughter Ellie, 8, to Mill Creek to see the improvements.

Jay and Mary Scala of Portland agreed. The Scalas try to come to Art in the Park every year, they said, to support artists from around the New England area. Sunday, they bought a watercolor painting by an artist from Nashua, N.H.

“You’ve got to put up with it because it takes time to get it done,” said Jay Scala of the construction. “I think it will be an improvement and I think what they’re doing will make it more pedestrian-friendly. It’s not a deterrent to me as far as I’m concerned.”

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