Artists showcase their work in annual Art in the Park Festival


Savannah Brewer

Cale Williams and his wife, have been coming to Art in the Park for 17 years.

Savannah Brewer, Reporter

The rain didn’t stop artists from lining Park Avenue in Blowing Rock with tents, masks and hand sanitizer.

The Blowing Rock Art in the Park Festival has occurred in downtown Blowing Rock for 58 years since its inauguration in 1962 by founders Robert Snyder and Edith Carter.

The festival takes place several times a year, although the May and June events were canceled this year due to the pandemic. 

Artists apply to participate in the festival every year. A panel of judges decides which applicants are given spots for the event. There are usually around 100 participants, but September’s festival saw about half that.  

“This is the only location that has been able to host their art shows,” wrote artist Deborah McCarthy over email.  “All other shows in my yearly line up have been cancelled. This shows their willingness and dedication to this event, and to the arts, to go the extra mile to make this show a success for the artist and the patrons that want to come out and support the arts community.” 

McCarthy has been glass making since she was 13 years old when her father taught her the art. She has brought her glasswork to Blowing Rock for eight years. 

Art in the Park in Blowing Rock rates as my favorite art show, with the most art appreciative crowd of any show I do,” McCarthy wrote in an email.

The rain didn’t stop artists from lining Park Avenue in Blowing Rock on Sept. 9. (Savannah Brewer)

“It’s about the only show they’re having now,” said painter Danny O’Driscol, in reference to art festival organizers. 

O’Driscol sat surrounded by his realist wildlife paintings, many of which include animals found in the High Country. While O’Driscol recently re-entered the art scene, many of the artists at this event have been coming for years.

The art festival was host to a myriad of art mediums, including leather work, woodwork, cloth work and metalwork.

This year marked Sue Gouse’s third year at the festival.

The Blowing Rock shows are well run, the people who attend are faithful and come even in the rain, and my work seems to be well received there,” Gouse wrote in an email. “Plus, we just love Blowing Rock.” 

Gouse’s tent was lined with landscape oil paintings, some of which depict scenes from nearby towns like Sapphire and Cashiers. Others depict sunny southeastern beaches, as well as what Gouse refers to as her “tween” paintings, which portray landscapes between Florida and Georgia. 

A few tents down from Gouse was potter Janet Donnagelo.

 “Is this going to be an inside chicken, or an outside chicken?” Janet asked as she packaged a ceramic rooster for a customer. 

“He’s going to be an inside chicken,”  the customer said, smiling, as the pair ducked under a tent away from the rain. 

Donnagelo has come to Art in the Park for three years. She was surrounded by some inventive pieces including a sponge holder/bowl, an earring holder and ‘berry bowls’ all of her own making. She smiled from her chair, which read: ‘I’m a potter, what’s your superpower?’

Also bright against the rain was Ginnie Parish and her polymer clay pieces. Many of Parrish’s pieces are inspired by nature, especially the beach. 

“I like seashell forms, patterns, textures and the colors of the tropics: turquoise, coral and sand,” Parrish wrote in an email. 

Currently, her favorite piece is a conch shell she covered in clay. Parrish wrote that the festival is, “ranking pretty high in quality of art, ease of setup and breakdown, communication with artist, artist amenities, and my sales are usually good for a one-day event.” 

The next Art in the Park will take place in Blowing Rock from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 3rd.