Oar art — Oars replace buoys in artists’ Watershed effort


WESTPORT — Over three years they painted and decorated wooden lobster buoys in about every imaginable nautical way, and now Westport and Sakonnet area artists are turning their talents to old oars.

The Westport Watershed Alliance will hosts its fourth annual Winter Art Show and silent auction at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery beginning on Saturday, Feb. 25 from noon to 4 p.m. The week kicks off with a “Brushes and Brews” art lesson from local artists Pam Clarkson and Barbara Healy on February 25 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Figuring it might be time for a change from those buoys, the Alliance board discussed possible alternatives before discovering oars and paddles.

“Artists were unbelievable creative with those buoys and kept coming up with amazing Westport River-related ideas,” said the Alliance’s Steve Connors. In fact, the third year of those “may have been the best yet.”

But some figured that potential bidders “might be saying by now, ‘We have enough buoys.”

The Alliance put out word that they were looking for old oars that people might be willing to donate.

“Pretty quickly we had over 40 of them — oars and paddles … Some people brought in two or three that they had hanging around,” Mr. Connors said.

The more weatherbeaten, the better as it turned out, he added. When artists came in to pick up the oars, “the ones that went first were the oldest, the most tired looking.”

There will be around 45 up for bidding and the first ones in are superb, Mr. Connors said.

Folk artist Ray Audet did a beautiful lighthouse scene with Westport spelled out in flag signals.

Gay Gillies painted fish onto hers, while Annie Griswold used the weathered wood color to make sandbars surrounded by water.

This event is meant to be a fun distraction from the winter doldrums, and is also an important fundraiser for WRWA. Last year’s show drew hundreds of visitors from all over the area.

The silent auction at the show’s finale will take place on Saturday, March 4, from 1 to 5 p.m., with the reception from 5 to 7 p.m.
Volunteers are welcome for two-hour time slots during the week of the show, greeting guests and helping to manage the gallery. For a preview of the silent auction, go to the WRWA web page: www.westportwatershed.org


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