BY MARK GOODSON — Although Hyattsville’s annual art festival may appear to be a recent Arts District trend, the Hyattsville Community Arts Alliance (HCAA) has been uniting local artists for years. Unlike other larger festivals, Hyattsville’s is mostly comprised of locals, turning the atmosphere towards the social dialog of art and community.
Monna Kauppinen, a local artist and founding member of the HCAA, credits the city for the festival’s success: “The people that run it do a nice job. And one of the best things they do is keep variety,” she said. Kauppinen displayed her artwork, paintings she describes as “things you can recognize,” alongside 70 exhibiting artists at this year’s festival.
A local pool of artists including residents from Hyattsville and the immediate vicinity attracted around 4,500 visitors on Sept. 19, an estimate provided by an HCDC Press Release. Artists ranged from photographers, jewelers, and craftspeople, to authors, sculptors, and musicians.
Adjacent to Kauppinen’s tent was photographer and artist duo Nicholas and Delia Mychajluk, who live near Magruder Park, and Nicholson Street’s Mosi Harrington, who displayed her handmade jewelry, including her latest creations in vintage glass. One pendant was made from 100-year-old glass. “Some flapper wore this around her neck in the 1920s,” she said, laughing.
Blake Sloane and his wife Jonaki stood beneath a homemade wooden placard reading “43rd Place.” Named for his workshop basement, the etsy shop offers wood crafts for the home and is an offshoot of his carpentry and design work. His raw material is reclaimed wood. The wood for his display table “came from our house renovations,” he said.
At the end of the row was local author Richard Morris, selling signed copies of several fiction novels, including the coming of age Canoedling in Cleveland and Cologne No. 10 For Men, a Vietnam satire. Morris was a rifle platoon leader in the First Cavalry Division in 1967.
The northmost tent on 45th Avenue near Spice 6 was occupied by Green Owl Design. Designer Erica Riggio roamed between the festival and the ‘sneak preview’ of Green Owl’s new location at 5303 Baltimore Avenue. “I’m super happy with the space,” she said. The new space is opening to the public on Oct. 17.
College Park Graphic Designer Chan Young Park displayed his artwork Weburger beside the entrance to the Palette at Arts District’s offices. In its first public viewing, the display placed images of digital icons, images which we see and click daily on our computer screens, into the physical world. Young said he displayed the work without an agenda for its reception: “What I provide is a trigger to think, or to recognize there is something there, but that’s all. The artist’s work is done at that point. After that, it is up to the audience,” he said.
Young invited visitors to draw their own icons which he would turn to digital replicas, reversing the process by translating images from the physical world into the digital one.
Down toward the railroad tracks where the musicians played was Riverdale artist and small business owner Evan Johnson. His art collection, entitled Glass of Water, forms recognizable shapes, such as the state of California or a heart, from smaller images. The effect changes what you see as you approach each work, the way water can change form without changing its basic compound.
Johnson also runs a management company, La Vida de Dopeness, with his brother Michael. The company “invests in other people’s passions and creates a base foundation for other people to build on their passions,” Johnson said. He helps a “nice little conglomerate” of rappers, producers, and deejay’s pursue their craft.
What started as a small group of Hyattsville artists has blossomed into an evergrowing yearly festival that celebrates the area’s diverse creativity and culture. HCAA founding member Monna Kauppinen has since moved to Adelphi. “I like the (arts festival) because it brings me back to Hyattsville,” she said.