ESSEX — Dozens of artists will flock to town Saturday to paint its sweeping landscapes as well as interiors of its plentiful antique shops and historic buildings as part of the first Paint Essex Day.
The event, which features a wet paint auction and reception later in the day, is sponsored by the Essex Merchants Group and Eventide Gallery of Essex.
Bob Coviello, chairman of the merchants group, said Essex is the perfect site for an event of this nature.
“There are innumerable natural views, historical settings and enough quirky locations and artifacts to fill a thousand canvases,” he said.
So far 45 painters have registered, and others will register the day of the event. Artists of all levels are welcome to paint at various outdoor locations, including the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, Cogswell’s Grant, the Cox Reservation and along Main Street, as well as the interiors of participating local antique shops and other businesses. Painters wanting to paint interiors are asked to sign up in advance because there is one painter per interior.
Saturday’s event is two-fold: Registered painters will “Paint Essex” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by a Wet Paint Auction and reception from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Essex County Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation at 82 Eastern Ave. in Essex. A wine reception, hors d’oeuvres and live music will accompany a silent and live auction of the day’s paintings. The rain date is Sunday.
Teri Eramo of Eventide Gallery said what led to this event, in part, was the hardship to merchants and residents caused by long-term road work through the heart of the town.
“We have been through so much with the road and sidewalk construction, and we really felt like we needed to bring people back to town again to walk around,” she said. “People kind of drive through. But if you get out and walk, and look at it from a walker’s point of view, there are always magical little places you will find that you don’t see when you are driving by.”
The tagline on the Essex town website states: “The river calls you — the town keeps you.”
“We want people to see that Essex is a charming little place. There is so much beauty here, and it’s so different from Gloucester and Rockport because it is a slower pace,” said Eramo. “We want this to be fun and we want people to have a good time.”
Among the antique stores and businesses that have allowed painters to go inside is the George Fuller House bed and breakfast, an 1830 Federal-style house built by Essex shipwrights, where Rockport artist Phyllis Kaplan will be painting. Other local painters taking part include Caleb Stone and Paul George.
Alexander Westerhoff Antiques will host painter Sue Gilkey of Millis, a master of interior paintings as well as other subjects. Gilkey is a member of the Salmagundi Art Club of New York City.
“We want painters, both local and from afar, to feel welcome here and be a part of this event,” said Eramo.
Visitors and residents should look for red balloons to learn where the artists are painting. Every merchant that is sponsoring an artist will have a red balloon outside of his or store.
“We want people to look for the artists and perhaps they will see a piece they can look for at the auction,” Eramo added.
Registration the morning of the event will be at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum on Main Street starting at 8 a.m. Cost is $5 per painter. Tickets for the Wet Paint Auction and reception are $25 and includes one beverage. (Tickets for registered painters are $10.) Advance tickets are available from various town merchants, including Eventide Gallery, Main Street Antiques, Bider’s Antiques, the shipbuilding museum and at the door. Proceeds will be used to promote the town as a destination for shopping, dining, recreation, historic sightseeing and the enjoyment of open space.
The auctioneer is Michael Bider of Bider Antiques.
Gail McCarthy may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.