In the last few months, talks of eliminating federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities have left many people wondering what it means for all art communities in the U.S. if the proposal is passed (although Trump ended up increasing their budgets by $2 million last month, their fate for the next fiscal budget year is unclear). While the notion is harrowing, it’s important to remember: Even in the worst-case scenario, we as the American people have the ability to preserve art and culture in our society as long as we support one another. Pleasure Island’s Arts and Culture Alliance invites guests to fully to embrace the creativity of local artists, vendors, culinary masters, and street performers as they take over Cape Fear Boulevard for the fifth annual Carolina Beach Street Arts Festival on May 20.
“Throughout the evolution of this festival, the common core principle has remained the same: Bring arts to the community and encourage the support of art programs by the community,” states Jillian Boivin, president of the IACA and vendor coordinator for the festival.
Although the festival is IACA’s primary project, it’s opened a gateway for the group to support other local art programs and further involve the community in the arts. They’ve donated to numerous educational programs and community projects.
“We gave a $350 donation to the art program at Carolina Beach Elementary, thanks to the generosity of the public at our Mardi Gras Auction Fundraiser held this past February,” Boivin says. “At this year’s festival in May, we are asking the public to bring donations of non-toxic art supplies to be distributed to local youth art programs.”
Guests also can get involved with IACA’s cause by contributing to the festival’s community art project. Local artists devised a committee to do the project and will be at the festival to begin the piece. “This is such a fun, creative way for members of the public to interact and converse with artists living and working in their community,” Boivin says. “Plus, they can physically partake in creating a one-of-a-kind original artwork that will eventually help to raise funds to support young artists and programs.”
The project will serve as inspiration for volunteer artists to create fine-art pieces to be auctioned off at next year’s annual Mardis Gras Auction Fundraiser. Also, the paint for this year’s Splatter Art Project is taking application in a different way; artists really only need to focus on their aim.
“The community participants will be invited to ‘paint’ on several large-scale canvases, using plastic squirt guns,” Boivin divulges. “The layering of these paint splatters will form the base of six different canvases.”
Along with the Splatter Art Project, guests will be able to watch artist demonstrations and shop through fine and craft arts from over 50 vendors, which will include Boivin.
“My pieces are all original mixed-media paintings on canvas or wood,” she says. Using upcycled fabric, buttons, sequins and beads, she adds texture and depth to nautical-inspired imagery. “I use acrylic paint to add defining contour lines and additional texture. I will be presenting mostly mermaid-themed artwork at the festival ,in collaboration with my mom, Laura Boivin of Lucky Lola Art. She is a textile artist.”
Among veteran vendors will be jewelry maker Cameron Johnson, owner of CJ’s Sea Shop on Etsy.com. Johnson begins her design process around color, first and foremost.
“Whether it is a stone, piece of sea glass or enamel color, I start by trying to figure out how to show off that item’s particular color,” she explains. “Lately, I have been combining stones and sea glass with enamel.”
An artist who enjoys taking on multiple projects simultaneously, Johnson will showcase a multitude of material, like bezel-set sea glass and stones, along with hand-stamped pieces, and more.
“Everything starts from sheet metal or wire,” Johnson explains. “I do not use any pre-fabricated blanks. The length of the projects will vary, depending on what I am working on. I will spend a couple of days cutting and preparing all of the copper blanks that I will be enameling, and another day adding chain or ear wires.”
While Johnson and Boivin are seasoned festival vendors, potter Brian Evans of Evans Pottery will be showing his work at the CB Street Arts Festival for the first time this year. He has been a potter for two decades now.
“I started in 1997 under the tutelage of master potter Hiroshi Sueyoshi,” Evans tells. Most of the complexity in his work isn’t from materials themselves, so much as from design. His contemporary style channels various aspects of nature, architecture and the human form.
“I throw most of my pieces on the potter’s wheel,” Evans explains. “The initial making of each can take anywhere from a couple minutes to several hours, depending upon how complicated the item is. It also took me 20 years to get to the skill level that I am at today.”