The re-invigorated Sidewalk Arts Festival is back for its fourth year next week, after a 10-year hiatus from downtown Bangor and a pandemic break in 2020.
The annual showcase of Maine and New England artists, artisans and performers is set to take over the parks and sidewalks along Central and Harlow streets all day on Saturday, July 8. The festival has its roots in arts showcases held downtown in the 1970s and 1980s, and again between 1990 and 2009, in a long-running event sponsored by WLBZ.
More than 60 booths will be set up, featuring art from a wide array of artists and makers. They range in medium and style from Hampden painter Obrianna Cornelius to Bangor-based Mimi’s Little Loveys, which makes hand sewn and knit baby and children’s clothing. Monroe-based 3 Legged Dog Ink will offer its handmade printed cards and stationary, and nature photographer Charles W. Hunt will offer prints of his work.
“One goal of the Sidewalk Art Festival has always been to represent a diversity of art forms and styles, as it is reflective of the diversity of downtown Bangor,” said Betsy Lundy, director of the Downtown Bangor Partnership, the organization that puts on the festival.
Bangor-based Hope Eye, one of the artists set for this year’s festival, has long painted images of wildlife as a lover of animals who studied wildlife ecology in college. When her mother died in 2021, she turned to painting as a way to cope with her grief — and found herself doing some surprising paintings not of wildlife specifically, but of house cats in various hats, costumes and unusual settings.
Eye now has prints in various sizes of her series of paintings of sad kittens, wearing things like cowboy hats, princess dresses and one — her best-selling — wrapped in tinfoil and with a pat of butter on its side, like a baked potato.
“When my mom died I had more grief than I knew what to do with,” Eye said. “I was so surprised when it all came out in the form of these sad looking kitties. But it made me feel so much better.”
In addition to visual artists and artisans, the festival will also showcase a number of local musicians, and will feature outdoor demonstrations by some of the vendors. A children’s tent, organized by the Girl Scouts of Maine and the Boys and Girls Club of Bangor, will feature activities for little ones, and a tent featuring art from students at Husson University, Eastern Maine Community College and the University of Maine will also be set up.
This year’s festival comes the day after the July First Friday event in downtown, which this month will feature a cornhole tournament from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Abbott Square parking lot on Harlow Street, as well as live music, yoga and arts activities throughout downtown.
For more information, visit downtownbangor.com.