Big Cupids art fair to open July 19

By Olivia Bradbury / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Artists from all corners of the peninsula will be gathering at Cupids for 10 days starting July 20 for the second annual Art Around the Bay event to sell their works, build professional bridges and raise funds for the Cupids Legacy Centre.

Peter Mulley and Sandy Newton are the main organizers of the fair, but “It’s not just a two-person effort by a long shot,” said Newton.

The idea for the art fair dates back to 2010 but took a while finding its feet. Mulley broached the idea with his neighbour, Lloyd King, who is a member of the Cupids Legacy Centre’s board of directors. 

“I happened to run across a lot of really good artists in the area who had nowhere to exhibit,” said Mulley. 

King and Mulley saw an art fair as being a good way to help the Cupids Legacy Centre. The facility was built in 2010 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first English settlement in what became Canada, by John Guy at Cupids in 1610. The centre has an exhibit dedicated to the history of Cupids and Conception Bay North, which includes artifacts that were found at the Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site. The centre also boasts a bookstore and coffee shop. It runs culture and heritage programs and has a room for public events. It is a place people from outside the community can visit to learn about the town’s history, as well as a place locals can gather to socialize.

By 2020, Mulley and others were finally ready to stage the fair, but then Covid closed down the world. The first Art Around the Bay fair was finally held at the Cupids Legacy Centre in the summer of 2023. It was a great success and featured approximately 150 works by 50 artists. This year promises to be an even bigger showcase, with more than 200 art pieces by approximately 80 artists. Revenue from the art sales will be split evenly between the respective artists and the Cupids Legacy Centre. A raffle will also be held for an art piece: Sea Ice Study XIII, an original three-colour reduction linocut print by Newfoundland artist Christine Koch. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn on July 28, the last day of the art fair.

During the fair, workshops will also be held where people can learn to draw portraits, paint with watercolours, and experiment with other forms of art. 

“We just thought it would be really great to add in some doing, or some creating, as well as showcasing,” said Newton. 

It’s a good way to involve the community in the event even more than last year, she added. The workshops are free, but there are limited slots for enrolment, and some are already full. 

Mulley said there are few opportunities to showcase art outside of St. John’s. Not only does the fair benefit artists in this way, he said, it also serves as an opportunity for them to come together to celebrate their craft and strengthen their connections. 

“They have a great time,” said Mulley, “‘especially on opening night. A real blast, it really is. Artists from all over, some of them haven’t seen each other for years, are meeting each other in the floor of the exhibition. And that’s part of the point.”

There will be a gala opening on Friday, July 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will feature a cash bar, music, and a chance to be among the first to view, and potentially buy, the artwork exhibited. The 10-day fair will officially run from July 20th to July 28th and will be free to attend. 

“It’s just like this kind of wonderful explosion of creativity that you can experience here in Cupids, around the bay,” Newton said. “It’s a unique experience.” 

She added the fair will be a comfortable experience even for people who have never been to an art gallery before. “I think this is a really safe, easy, friendly, wonderful way to sort of step inside and just see what’s going on all around that you might never know and yet there it is, this great creative output,” she said.

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