When the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Fine Art Show on Saturday, August 4 and Sunday, August 5, they’ll be celebrating a tradition of artistic excellence that dates back at least 40 years.
Artists had long been congregating informally on Main Street in Westhampton Beach, and in time, the gathering of artistic talent evolved into a formal, much heralded event. In 1972, the Chamber’s executive board named the outdoor fine art show in honor of Mary Ocame Fritchie, a local businesswoman who paved the way for its success by taking the helm as director in the early 1960s.
Fritchie, who passed away in the spring of 2011, would have reason to be proud. Of 2,500 art shows across the country, the Mary O. Fritchie Show now ranks among the top 50, said John David, a former Chamber President who has been its director for five years.
On view will be the work of more than 100 artists, traveling in from as far as California and Florida, said David, who expects more than 5,000 visitors over the course of the two-day event.
The cornucopia of artistic media includes photography, oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, and sculpture wrought in wood and metal.
David is particularly interested in seeing the work of photographer John Ellsworth, known for his stunning maritime and nautical images. Ellsworth, who has been exhibiting at the show for 10 years, took home first place in the category of photography, pop art prints and prints on canvas in 2011, and second place in 2010.
Ellsworth will display about 30 pieces, including old favorites like “Moored,” a shot that focuses on the details of an old wooden sailboat and its fanciful reflection in the water. It’s been a banner year for pursuing new themes for the seasoned sailor whose imagery is informed by his knowledge of aesthetics and visual communication.
Ellsworth’s newest work includes black and white images showcasing selective color.
“I retained the color of elements that originally drew me to the scene,” Ellsworth said of the primarily monochromatic images which engage the eye with a pop of pleasing aqua or fiery red For example, in “Patina Prop,” an oxidized bronze boat propeller boasts a blue-green patina that is pure eye candy.
In terms of his artistic forays into metaphoric interpretations of nature, the bodies of three koi navigating a pond at the Bronx Botanical Gardens serendipitously form a triangle, hence the name, “Trinity.”
The repertoire of longtime exhibitor and award-winning painter Lillian Forziat, who works in oils, includes landscapes, seascapes, and florals, but her passion shines most brightly in her still lifes. Her richly colored still life, “Gloxinia and Spring Hillside,” stopped me in my tracks when I viewed it earlier this month.
“Life is in the details,” Forziat said of her realistic style and vibrant palette reflected in the gloxinia’s velvety leaves and the nuances of its rosy bell-shaped blossoms.
Visitors will also be enchanted by her seashell portraits, an uncommon subject for an oil painter, yet one in keeping with an art show in a beachside community.
Forziat will have originals, giclées and paper prints for sale.
The show will host a Youth Art Clinic at the gazebo, which will enable children to receive instruction from outstanding art educators.
40th Annual Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Fine Art Show, Aug. 4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., August 5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., rain or shine. Westhampton Beach Village Green and Mill Road between Main Street and Church Lane. Admission is free. For information visit www.whbcc.com.