Tag Archives: Rhode Island

Festival Focus: Meet Jen Black

29 Apr


Connected by bridges yet somehow quite wonderfully disconnected sits Conanicut Island and the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island. Perfectly pastoral and coastal at the same time, Jamestown manages to miss the throngs of summer traffic some of it’s neighbors contend with and so remains a peaceful community of folks dedicated to their myriad crafts. Jennifer Weeden-Black is one such islander. Anchored in her family’s rich history here, the artist has grown Islandesign for over ten years bringing the strong simplicity of the island to life in her bold, original stained glass canvases. Browsing her pieces feels like flipping through an old photo album of our beloved, local landscapes and seascapes we here at Festival Fete covet. We can’t wait to see what she brings to Newport.

Festival Fete: What were you up to this past winter?

Jen Black: Farming is a perpetual part of my life and inspiration. Though I don’t live on a farm, I worked at Simmons Farm in Middletown, RI to fill the need.

FF: What has inspired your most recent work?

JB: My latest projects have been a series of goats as panels of glass or paintings, inspired by the goats on the farm. Islandesign and stained glass as an art form to me is a large part of an ideal lifestyle.

“My family and I live a pretty simple life in Jamestown.

Family, art, and a love of farming inspire me every day.”

FF: Tell us about your process.

JB: My mother Donna is my partner in a lot of the stained glass preparation process. What people may not realize is how very time consuming the whole task is. Each piece, no matter how large or small, has at least a 13-step process. From picking out the perfect colors to polishing the finished product, it is a lot of work. I design my own templates and never copy from books. Stained Glass is a medium that you really have to love the whole process of.  Most people who take classes, don’t continue. They don’t realize how much time is put into each piece until they make their own.


Local goats as recent inspiration: From painting to stained glass.

FF: Does any piece stand out as your favorite? 

JB: My favorite pieces are often the most challenging.  My mother and I made a very large Beavertail Lighthouse panel as a commission last year. It was a tedious process because it had to fit in a very specific space exactly.


Clockwise: Conanicut Island, The Pell Bridge, Beavertail Lighthouse

FF: Which are you most proud of?

JB:  I am most proud of a piece we made for a couple in Connecticut. It was a large Poppy Garden. It was very time consuming, but satisfying to see it hung in it’s space. The look on the customer’s face said it all.


Sea glass “Web,” repurposes sea glass from local shores.

FF: Where do you source your glass?

JB:  The glass that I use for the work mostly comes from a supplier in Old Saybrook, CT. It’s always a pleasant trip to go and visit with Vinny and Carol. I also love to repurpose glass like old bottles or sea glass from our beautiful beaches here.

And beautiful they certainly are, as interpreted by Jen. You’ll find the artist in person at our first show in Newport on June 28th and 29th. Browse her pieces at her online shop on Etsy and like Islandesign on Facebook.

Thanks for reading our latest in artist interviews on the road to Newport. Stay tuned!


Designs on This Weekend: March 6-9

6 Mar

Weekends start on Thursdays as far as we’re concerned and if they don’t, then they should. In that spirit, we’re happy to scour the scores of websites and highlight here a smattering of arty things to do and some to simply not miss whether you’re alone, with the family, skipping around town with friends or venturing across the border. As we await warmer weather and the beginning of our season, we’ll delight in all that is flickering around us right now. We even found a festival – in Western Mass – for the off season. Who knew? And if we’re missing something spectacular, please do tell us and we’ll add it on. We hope to grow this piece of our budding blog into a community calendar and will do it that much better with your help! For now, add one or two of these events to your weekend agenda…


Audiences at Manhattan Short 2013

  • Thursday, March 6th, 7 pm: Exclusively in RI at the Jamestown Arts Center – Manhattan Short’s 2nd Annual Feature Film Project screens the year’s selected film: ‘Everyone’s Going to Die.’ Chosen by moviegoers across the county, Manhattan Short discovers and launches one film each year with the opinions and input from viewers like you. Get in on this only in Jamestown. http://www.jamestownartcenter.org/film1.html#manhattanfeature





Taproot Threads organic printed clothing; Andrew Jack’s handmade Windsor chairs; Tracey Lizotte’s watercolor and pencil originals – exhibitors at Old Deerfield Craft Fairs.

  • March 8-9th: The Deerfield Spring Sampler Fair in West Springfield, MA – Now is a great time to travel the region as lowered room rates and downright good deals can easily be found during the low season. This fair features 135 juried exhibitions, craft demonstrations and classes with a focus on “the gift-giving needs of spring and garden outdoor living interests.” What a great way to jump start getting back outside and getting creative.  http://festivalnet.com/13139/West-Springfield-Massachusetts/Art-and-Craft-Shows/Deerfield-Spring-Sampler-Fair

Enjoy the weekend, keep warm and keep in touch.

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Soak up the ‘Snow’ Shine

14 Feb

Image    One cool thing about Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday is that you’ve got the whole weekend. A long weekend. And while it does seem silly to suggest heading out at all – ever – as this never ending storm endlessly drops either snow, ice or rain, we must hold out hope….I’ll admit I kind of like/slash/love walking to the neighborhood pub that stays open – even in this. Romantic is certainly not expensive.

And Valentine’s Day is not always ‘romantic.’ It’s finding yourself outside, during that eventual break in the clouds, on your favorite snowy trail with your favorite people. Or holding your kid’s hand really tight as you make your way up over the rocks along your special piece of our perfect coastline. It’s sledding and it’s ice skating.

Back at home later, it’s the do-it-yourself-and-make-the-most-of-it holiday that fires up sweet romance. So get the groceries and make that meaningful meal for one or make it for many. Then light the candles, cue the music and enjoy it. Because soon, yes soon, the weather will be too good.

And while we steep in the kind of warmth that only this season brings, we are still looking ahead to milder days. In that anticipation, we wrongly announced the start of our 2014 Festival schedule. We correct that Garden City will host our first festival of 2014 on June 7-8 and Newport will follow soon after. We sorta skipped right over it in our last post! So keep it simple this weekend, stay warm and stay with us as we update Festival Fete news and scheduling regularly.

New Year, New Festivals!

12 Jan


They say it’s the Year of the Horse, but we’re calling it the Year of the Festival…

We’ve got exciting news: Festival Fete has added TWO NEW SHOWS to the festival lineup for 2014!

Our first new show will kick off the season right in the heart of beautiful, downtown Newport, RI on Bowen’s Wharf, just outside The Landing Restaurant. A historic seaport overlooking Newport Harbor, Bowen’s Wharf is home to some of Newport’s finest boutiques and eateries, as well as 18th century commercial wharf buildings. Stroll along the water, check out the architecture, eat, shop, and be merry at the 1st annual Newport Art Festival, June 28th and 29th from 10am – 5pm daily.

Next up is the 1st annual Festival Fete Emerald Square Art Show, in North Attleboro, MA. This event marks Festival Fete’s first venture out of Rhode Island, and we are so excited to have the opportunity to connect local artists and artisans with the wider New England community! Held outside the Emerald Square Mall, and conveniently located right off the interstate, this show will be a crowd-pleaser. Join us on July 26th from 10am – 5pm for some locally grown art, food, and merriment in The Bay State!

Here’s where else we’ll be in 2014:

The 2nd annual Wakefield Art Festival will be held  along Main Street and the Saugatuck River in historic, downtown Wakefield, Rhode Island on October 4th from 10am – 5pm.

The 4th annual East Greenwich show will be back at New England Tech. Dates and times TBA shortly.

The 4th annual Garden City Center Art Festival in Cranston, RI. Dates and times TBA shortly.

Check out our website or the FAQ page for more detail on show locations.  We can’t wait to see you there!

Shop Smart by Shopping for Local Art this Holiday Season!

23 Oct

It’s hard to believe we are already talking about the upcoming holidays…but the fact is, it is upon us in the retail world big time! Festival Fete would like to encourage you to avoid the frustrating lines and the mundane of big box shopping – and instead shop at local art festivals where you can find something unique for everyone on your list, support local artists and have fun with the whole family!


Bring your entire family to enjoy Festival Fete’s Holiday Market, this year on three consecutive Sundays – December 8th, 15th and 22nd, at the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI from 10am to 6pm. The festival will include over 150 Contemporary American Art and Craft artisans along with  visits with Santa, FREE Gift wrapping, a Children’s Creation Station, festive food and strolling merriment. $5 per person entry fee with proceeds benefiting Art Is Smart. Children under 12 are FREE.

Mark your calendars now and plan to be creative by shopping smart for local art!


Upcycled clothing is HOT and autumn olive is on FIRE!

3 Oct

Upcycled clothing is definitely the “hot” couture right now and Lisa Perry, of autumn olive is a fantastic young designer that we are thrilled to have as part of the Festival Fete shows. You can see her work in person and try items on in her cleverly designed “dressing room” in her booth this Saturday at the Wakefield Art Festival from 10am to 5pm.


Lisa has been so busy this past year creating her one of a kind skirts, dresses, tops and tunics that she has hardly had any time for marketing or keeping items in her Etsy store. She is mostly selling her work in person at shows and uses Facebook to keep in touch with her customers. Thankfully she had some time to connect with me recently and send some photos from her new autumn line.


autumn olive plantIt turns out that Autumn Olive is actually a plant; an invasive weed, in fact. So I asked Lisa why she chose that as the name for her business and she said, “I chose the name ‘autumn olive’ (all lower case) sort of on a whim. I was introduced to them on a wild edible walk in Southern Massachusetts and they were quite delicious.  As someone who loves wild foods and whose favorite season is fall, it felt like a good fit.” (Sounds perfect to me!)

I finally have one of my own autumn olive skirts and I think that Lisa’s clothing is not only fashionably cool because it is made from recycled material, but her craftsmanship and attention to detail is excellent. Keep in mind that autumn olive is one of a kind, designer clothing made by hand, which means you should not expect TJMaxx prices! Her designs are amazingly flattering to many different body shapes and sizes, and she will help you find a piece that is a good match for you. And if you’re like me, you’ll reach for that unique, pretty and comfortable work of art to wear every chance you get (prepare yourself for the compliments!).


Here is a little bit from Lisa about how she started her business:

I started sewing and working with fiber fairly young but never had any formal lessons as a child or teenager. I then spent several years in college working with fiber in other ways, constructing sculptural pieces through felting, knitting, and coiling. Around 2010 I started to explore sewing functional pieces of wearable art that were also sculptural in nature. I was very attracted to the recycling/upcycling concept I was seeing more and more of in both art and fashion, so I decided to commit  to working in exclusively reclaimed material and see where it took me. I started autumn olive as a side project about this time, but it didn’t truly grow into a business until mid year 2011. Since then, this has become my full time focus.

Be sure to stop by Lisa’s booth this Saturday at the Wakefield Art Festival in the heart of downtown Wakefield, RI from 10am to 5pm.

Wakefield Art Festival

Many thanks to our sponsor:

Polar Logo 2012

A Festival Fete Announcement!

2 Oct

Jennifer & Pilar working together at the Garden City Art Festival

Have you heard the news?  Jennifer Neuguth, founder of Festival Fete, has transferred the ownership of Festival Fete to the very capable hands of Pilar Brennar so that she can dedicate herself to her new business, MANTRA.  Jennifer and Pilar have been working together over these past few months to make sure that Pilar knows all the “ins and outs” of running the business. And lucky for us all, Jennifer will continue to work with Festival Fete in support of Art is Smart and the Creation Station. Please read the following messages from Pilar and Jennifer.

Jennifer Neuguth, successful entrepreneur starts a new business, MANTRA!

Jennifer Neuguth, successful entrepreneur starts a new business, MANTRA!

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank all the many artists, young artists, sponsors and patrons that have supported Festival Fete from the beginning.

I have completely enjoyed working in the arts!

Please, keep in touch as I start a new journey at My Mantra. My life.  www.mymantramylife.com



Pilar Brenner - new owner of Festival Fete!

Pilar Brenner – new owner of Festival Fete!

Hello to all the artists, supporters, and fans of Festival Fete!

I’m sure by now, many of you have heard the news that Jennifer has started down a new road with MANTRA, and you and I are going to continue on the ever-exciting, and growing journey of Festival Fete!

When I initially thought about purchasing the company, I asked myself what spoke to me most about Festival Fete and its mission. What I realized is that I fully embrace and LOVE, what Jennifer and David have accomplished; an event which showcases local artisan talent, supports young and budding artists, brings business to local communities, and is fun and family friendly. Festival Fete events truly enrich all aspects of RI and make it a better place. It is now my goal to carry on the work that Jennifer and David began.

My commitment to our artists is to continue to provide and expand the platform in which you are able to showcase your art, advertising campaigns, and the great venues will continue and only get better. My commitment to the many loyal supporters who attend these events and the communities around them, is to continue to present the best show we can with great art, great food, and great entertainment!

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the Wakefield Festival, October 5th!



Wakefield Art Festival