A relaxing day at the Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival
On Friday, September 27th, I spent the afternoon within the confines of Huntington Beach State Park, at the 44th Annual Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival. It was advertised to host nearly 100 of the finest local artisans, ranging from basketry to metalwork experts. Going into the festival, I was unsure of what to expect, as I had never been, and had little to no expectations.
Nevertheless, when I had finished my visit, I was left in awe. The historic Atalaya Castle is a setting like no other. When you’re in its presence, its magical nature takes hold of you and refuses to let go. You become encompassed by the combination of history and modern art. The brick walls guide you along a journey as you move from display to display, viewing the incredible work of different talented individuals.
When I enter the exhibition, I was welcomed by the wonderful smell of kettle corn, the sound of upbeat music, and the cheerful noise of the crowds “oohs and awe” as they spectate the different art. Finding my way around was no trouble, as the event was organized into a simple grid layout, and brochures with a map were readily available. My first impression was I can’t believe I only spent $10 for admittance, as the energy alone was well worth it.
During the time I was there, I was able to get a look at nearly every vendor. While everyone there was remarkable in their own right, some stood out to me more than others, and just simply appealed to my taste in art I suppose.
Jennifer Broughton’s woven baskets were as Lowcountry as it gets. They stood out to me, as it was obvious the sheer commitment she has to create a work of functional art. Even the display as a whole was pleasant. There’s no question her creations embody the history and culture behind basket weaving. Click here to read just why it is so important we support our local basket weavers like Jennifer.
Some of the most incredible furniture style woodwork I’d ever laid eyes on was tucked away in the castles corridors at booth IS1. John Parkinson’s style is so simple, yet incredibly elegant. Available at his station were tables, chairs, and desks and more. The craftsmanship simply blew me away. It was a small booth, but it left a big impact!
Still within the castle walls was Kira Talerico’s collection, also found on mapmom.com. Here you can get a piece of wood with the map of your hometown illustrated into it. The pieces of art can have exact coordinates, street names, neighborhoods, bodies of water and so on. She displayed examples of Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Murrells Inlet, Clemson, and others that were available for purchase. It stood out to me as the perfect solution if you’re looking for just the right piece to bring a whole room together.
Another fantastic display was the sculpture work of Scott Penegar. These actually blew me away. Sculptures of stingrays, otters, herons, and other wildlife were available for purchase at the event, and there is even more available online. If you want a one of a kind piece of art, he’s your guy! Don’t let the prices deter you, they’re well worth it.
Goat Island Treasure Boxes make wonderful gifts. They’re beautifully crafted and are totally functional pieces of art to stow away small everyday items. Many booth had great selections. From what I saw, there was nearly limitless options to choose from. The woodwork’s unique ties to South Carolina make them the perfect gift. You can find many different creations online if you’re interested in finding a one of a kind Goat Island Treasure Box.
When it comes to portraying Lowcountry culture, Sandra Roper’s watercolor paintings articulate it in the purest of forms. I used to see art like this more when I was a child, but it has seemingly diminished in its popularity. However, the use of the colors, the medium, and familiar Lowcountry settings create a feeling of “home.” Her ability to portray the emotions of her subjects puts you in the painting itself. It’s simply incredible.
If you love pets and art, Patricia DeHart has your fix, as she wonderfully combines them both. She had beautiful creations of yellow labs and golden retrievers available in her display, and they were a splendid change of pace from the other art. Her creative instinct to paint the profile of these beloved dogs stood out to me most. Just an overall fun booth to stop and admire. She even had works of the Budweiser Clydesdales, crabs, and sea turtles painted into acrylic perfection. You can also find more of her work online!
Another fun stop I made was to booth R11b to see Erika McKelvey. Erika makes leather footwear, handbags, and accessories. A perfect stop for the modern fashionista! ErikaLynn.com is host to all of her handmade creations. Take a look!
Jason & Russ Hart from Turned and Burned presented an incredible woodwork display at booth R12. They had lamps, vases, candle holders, pecan bowls, and more all crafted into beautiful pieces of functional wooden art, but it doesn’t stop there. They’re able to incorporate a fascinating feature where they fill the cracks of the wood in with an epoxy that glows in the dark. This generates an incredibly versatile piece of art that screams originality. I have never seen anything like this in my life, and you certainly shouldn’t miss out on it either.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight the star of the show in my eyes, Danny O’Driscoll. Where to start? How about with, wow. This gentleman’s talent is undeniable, for his realistic paintings of wildlife will throw you for a loop. I was convinced it was photography until I got a closer look. The details are breathtaking and lure you in closer and closer, as if you were in the painting itself. My favorite pieces were the ones of wild game animals, like turkey, deer, and quail. Simply fantastic. Not to mention he was running some great deals on prints, so you missed out if you weren’t able to stop by his showcase. I’d call you crazy if you didn’t at least take the chance to go and see his incredible works of art on his website.
After roaming around and taking a look at all of the incredible different artisan displays, I couldn’t help but feel happy. It was a fantastic way to spend the day. I’d describe the event as something out of an Roald Dahl novel, one in which just words cannot accurately convey its nature, but instead need the full attention of your imagination to grasp the creativity at work.
It’s the James and Giant Peach of art festivals, if that makes any since. I can’t stress how important it is to partake in this festival as a local or even a tourist. You not only get to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but you get to support local artisans who care deeply about their Lowcountry roots, and for just $10, you’re practically stealing to join in on the fun.
The food was great, the music was fantastic, and the art was even better. I, for one, am already looking forward to the 45th Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival, and you should be too.