Residents from Hyattsville and neighboring communities enjoyed sunny skies and a wide range of art styles at Saturday’s Fifth Annual Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival.
This year marked a record number of submissions from area artists, said Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corp., who helped to organize the event. About 70 artists inquired to participate in the festival this year, but many were turned away because of the high level of interest, he said. Last year, about 35 booths with more than 40 artists took part in the event, he said.
Eisenberg said the large number of submissions signaled the continuing success of The Gateway Arts District, which encompasses Brentwood, Hyattsville, Mount Rainier and North Brentwood. Under state law, artists who live in the district area pay no state income tax on the money they earn from the arts, Eisenberg said.
“The Arts District has always been a success because we have artists who can live here in perpetuity,” he said.
About 50 booths manned by artists selling paintings, jewelry, wood cutting boards, leather bracelets, quilts, glassworks, T-shirts and other items crammed into the space between Jefferson Avenue and U.S. 1 and Jefferson and 45th avenues.
By 1 p.m., Hyattsville artist Bruce Hellington, 51, sold three of his paintings. His art-rock band — 9353 — used to play at clubs in the vibrant 1980s Washington, D.C., punk rock scene, he said, and started to make albums again in 2007. Hellington said he was selling his paintings and other pieces to help pay for vinyl records for the band’s new album.
All of his paintings and other pieces, including a guitar painted red and black with nails smashed into it and wires attached to it, were completed in the 1980s or 1990s, he said. He was not concerned with selling the pieces because he was mainly focused on creating music, he said.
“These are the reaction to not being able to do a song,” Hellington said of his art. “I am a musician. If I can’t do the music it’s got to go out somewhere. Guys like me are dead, locked up, or an artist. There is no in between for us.”
Marisa Rand, 24, who lives in Calvert County, sold plastic replicas she crafted of wolf, fox, coyote, possum and other animals’ skulls at her booth. She also sold key chains and jewelry of replica raccoon femurs and bird skulls. Rand said her work was an outgrowth of her interest in taxidermy.
“I have always liked skulls and dead things,” said Rand, who has a bachelor’s of fine arts in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. “I think they are really interesting.”
Corey Powell of Hyattsville attended the event with his wife, Marquisha, and their 4year-old son, Caden, and 3-year daughter, Aubrey. He said they were looking to purchase some art, but wanted to look around at more artists’ pieces before they made a decision.
“We appreciate the arts and are looking to build up our collection one piece at a time,” Marquisha Powell said. “We are hoping to find a single piece that we can build upon over the next few years.”
Hilary Theis, 27, of College Park sold large-scale acrylic paintings in the price range of $700 to $1,000 that she described as a mix between abstract art and portraiture.
Theis said she grew up in Hyattsville and attended the event before, but this was the largest she had seen it.
“I hope I am helping it,” said Theis, who received a bachelor’s in studio art from The University of Maryland. “This is awesome.”