Lynne Hagerty Perez and her daughter, Chelsea Hagerty, originally opened the Mullica Hill Art Center so artists could display and sell their original pieces. When they couldn’t find nearby classes in town, the duo started to teach classes.
Their art center, first opened in 2012, will now host its seventh annual arts and crafts festival on Saturday, May 8.
“Opening up the Mullica Hill Art Center was a tribute to my mother, who was an artist,” said Lynne.
The festival will take place at 10 a.m. and will feature about 100 vendors, the largest in its history. Local artists will be able to sell and display original work that consists of homemade scarves, protective masks, paintings, drawings, and blown glass.
One of the artists is Bruce Williams, who will have 50 or 60 of his gourds on display. Gourds are cropped plants in the squash and pumpkin families.
“Once you grow them, you have to dry them, then clean them from the inside,” Williams explained.
Drying the gourds takes up to four to five months before he can burn designs on them with a hot iron. Designs include flowers, animals, trees, and scenery. Williams also has special pens that allow him to shade in the designs.
“We’ve seen people who paint decorations on dried gourds, but very seldom have we seen anyone who burns designs and scenes on them, or combines burned designs, paintings, and carvings,” he said.
He sells each piece for as little as $45 and up to $150, depending on the amount of work that goes into each piece.
The festival originally took place through the Mullica Hill municipality, but Hagerty Perez and her daughter ended up taking it over once their business was up and running. To prepare, they attended different art festivals in the South Jersey area.
“Kids are expected to be creative in school, but they aren’t being taught how to be creative,” said Chelsea Hagerty.
When she teaches kids’ classes, Chelsea loves to use watercolors, while her artist mom specializes in acrylics and using clay.
“We feel that art is beneficial because it opens up horizons and friendships while also giving kids confidence,” said Hagerty Perez.
To see more gourds by Bruce Williams, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/decorativegourds.