NEWBURYPORT — Local artists of all mediums and ages could be found huddled under tents to avoid the scorching heat Tuesday afternoon, selling their artwork and chatting with community members during the city’s annual Yankee Homecoming celebration.
While the summer heat turns ice cream cones into soup and has people seeking a shady spot, the local artists are tucked away on Inn Street, selling jewelry, paintings, photography, seashell art and hand-sewn tapestries.
One of those artists is photographer Drew Finch, 18, of Newburyport, who set up shop in one of the artist shanties behind the Custom House Maritime Museum.
On his table, he set up prints large and small of what has become a famous local shot of the brick courthouse on the Bartlet Mall at night. In his photo, the reflection of the trees, brick building and water fountain align perfectly with the real structures. The bright lights from storefronts and front porches bring warmth to the image.
Finch began selling prints of this photo, which is featured on the cover of this year’s official Yankee Homecoming program, after he snapped it three years ago. He said the photo came about in a “super random” way.
“I was with my friends and they were at CVS,” he recalled. “I thought it looked cool, I’ll try and take a photo. I just had my camera with no tripod and I put it up on the chair and just did a 10-second exposure and that’s how it came out. It took three tries and I said it looked good.”
Before he saved up enough money to purchase his Nikon D5300, Finch’s grandmother used to take him to a local farm to learn to shoot photos.
After an interest was sparked, Finch continued capturing landscapes, portraits and local scenes. Although he has several photos from a recent trip to Iceland he’d like to try and sell, Finch said this specific picture of Newburyport became a local favorite after his dad posted it on Facebook.
“It’s the only one I know that will sell,” said Finch, who added that he’s made thousands of dollars from the photo. “I haven’t really tried to sell any other pictures.”
Like Finch, a younger photographer Luc Bickel, 12, of Newburyport pitched an umbrella over a small table to lay out his own portraits. A small, handwritten sign was taped on the right side of the table that read “Luc Bickel Photography.”
Framed images and magnets featuring close-ups of intricate patterns, flowers, and odds and ends from Oldies Marketplace were on display.
When Bickel first got his digital camera, it was with the intention of filming videos and movies. After he started experimenting with still photography, “It became my new favorite thing to do,” Bickel said.
His inspiration comes from whatever he thinks “looks cool” or what will “look good in a photo.” One image featured a close-up of a design from a Chinese art museum in Washington, D.C., he said.
“I was going through the hallways and I saw on a table this cool design,” he said. “I read about it and realized there was a lot of cool history behind it, so I decided to take a picture of it.”
Bickel said he’s sold “a lot” of artwork over the last few days and will be set up in the middle on Inn Street near the water fountain until the weeklong celebration comes to a close this weekend.
To raise awareness through selling artwork about how much plastic people use, artist Asia Scudder, 53, of Amesbury had her wire sculptures hanging under a tent in collaboration with the Clean River Project of Methuen.
“I, myself, am a sculptor, so I’m building a larger-than-life sea turtle that I’ll build out of copper wire and it’s going to be filled with plastic as a way to show how plastic is harming our waterways and literally ending up in our animals,” Scudder said. “It is so sad, just heartbreaking.”
After going on a few boat trips along the Merrimack River with the organization, Scudder said she became more aware of what types of plastic and trash, including hypodermic needles, were floating down the river and into the ocean. She said it’s not just straws and plastic bags, but plastic lids, balls, frisbees, bottle caps, cups and other random items.
“Hypodermic needles are flowing down the river,” Scudder said. “Some of them end up on Plum Island and the beach. We’re at the end of the river, so it literally dumps out onto the beach. You could be walking down the beach and it’s all in the seaweed. Not to mention if it gets to the open ocean, sea animals are getting poked.”
These three artists and other local creators can be found on Inn Street throughout Yankee Homecoming.
Staff writer Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.