Agawam Community Artists and Artisans host art festival

Aug. 16,

| Carly Phaneuf

AGAWAM — The Agawam Community Artists and Artisans are organizing their annual Pioneer Valley Art Festival on Saturday, Aug. 26, and Sunday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Polish American Club, 139 Southwick St., Feeding Hills. The event includes over 70 artists and artisans located all throughout Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. On display will be the New England Mosaic, a giant collection of 6- by 6-inch painted tiles. Ceil Rossi from ACAA explained her excitement to see what the artists had to bring to the event this year.

“This year’s event has again been well planned by our Festival Committees. Thanks to our hard-working New England Mosaic committee, the expansion of our New England Mosaic Project has grown to 24 feet. This year’s theme was ‘The Beauty and Bounty of New England’ and was a success thanks to the cooperation of many local libraries distributing the 6-by-6 canvas tiles to patrons who painted them,” said Rossi.

The canvases will be sold to attendees at the festival and the net proceeds will help fund scholarships, as well as charitable and educational projects.

Apart from the mosaic, there will be paintings, pottery, jewelry, food prepared by the Polish American Club and more.

“New this year is our ‘Art with a Heart’ booth. Visitors can enjoy a painting workshop with instructors from ACAA, proceeds going to our local food banks. There will be two workshops each day of the festival,” said Rossi.

Many artists from Southbridge to Westfield and everywhere in between will be in attendance. There will be a wide variety of art to see, from paintings and sculptures to music and more. The artists will come from all walks of life, and their work will reflect their unique perspectives and experiences. This is a great opportunity to see the best that the region has to offer in terms of art and culture.

Donna Roy from South Hadley will be one of the many artists who are attending the festival.

“I have been creating art since childhood. At the age of 10, my mom paid for me to have a private apprenticeship with a local oil painter and it was there that I began to learn the fundamentals of art,” said Roy. She holds a BFA from UMass Amherst and furthered her studies during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I am also a juried member of the Pastel Society of America as well as other art organizations. My preferred mediums are soft pastel and gouache, but I have dabbled in many including acrylic, oil, fused and stained glass and enamel painting. I particularly love pastels because of the richness of color, the tactile feeling of drawing, and the ease of using pastels whether in the studio or painting plein air. No waiting for paintings to dry,” Roy said.

Roy is also a member of the Amherst Plein Air Society, Agawam Community Artists, Monson Arts Council and Quabbin Art Association. At the Pioneer Valley Art Festival, Roy will have a collection of fine art paintings in soft pastel and gouache.

Louise Pigott from Southbridge is another artist who is traveling to the festival in order to show off her collection of vibrant landscapes that encapsulate the beauty of changing seasons.

“I got involved in painting in 2010 when my son started taking lessons. I always loved and wished that I could paint the beautiful landscape around me,” said Pigott. After losing her mother in 2021, Pigott then began experimenting with different art styles and mediums. “My mother was one of my biggest supporters who encouraged me to follow my dreams and walk in the footsteps of my grandfather, her dad. After the passing of my mother, life has taught me to live life to the fullest and follow your heart and passions.”

While she does have some formal training, Pigott, and many others, likes to consider herself untrained.

“I am a mostly self-taught artist, whose natural ability is to creatively apply color and texture to canvas. Through the connected world of the internet, I have been inspired and supported through a global network of artists,” said Pigott. Thankfully, today’s technological advances make it possible to bring the world of art into our living rooms. With the ability to learn at her own pace, Pigott is now a skilled artist who takes commissions and runs her own website.

Her preferred medium is acrylic paint. “After trying it, I fell in love with it! It is easy to use and dries in a timely manner,” said Pigott. “I want you to feel like you can walk right into my paintings.”

In an ode to her mother, Pigott makes a special addition to each of her paintings.

“On the day of her passing, the very last words my mother spoke were, ‘My angels are here.’ That was a very emotional yet comforting time to know that her angels came for her. In memory of my mother and the angels who came for her I hide an angel in every one of my paintings,” said Pigott. Although don’t ask her where the angel is, she said that the viewer must find it themselves.

Joan Nelson is an award-winning artist from Western Massachusetts who works from her studio in the Indian Orchard Mills. She works in a variety of media, including egg tempera, acrylic and watercolor. Egg tempera is her favorite medium because of its bright, clear colors and quick drying time. Nelson is known for her finely detailed paintings of birds, but she also paints portraits and whimsical art. She spends a lot of time outdoors photographing birds and nature for inspiration and reference. Her work is in many private collections, and she currently has pieces on display at J.H. Miller’s in West Springfield and Handworks Gallery in Acton. She teaches children’s art classes sponsored by the Red Thread Network for Arts and offers lessons for teens and adults at her studio in Indian Orchard Mills in Springfield.

For those who like a more wearable piece of art, check out Nan Hurlburt, CEO of Tangled Vine. Hurlburt’s jewelry is made up of a melody of blues, gold and soft stones that create a unique look unlike any other. A true entrepreneur, Hurlburt has pursued a love of design in her career choices and that has always been her drive, beginning with all forms of garment and costume design and construction to owning and running a successful business for 28 years. As a designer, Hurlburt’s drive to create something using original ideas has led to years of exploring her artistic voice in painting, drawing, and competing in the world of “realism” and “plein air.” Through this path, a love of jewelry and creating unique pieces has sparked her talents. Together with a love of wine, a beautiful idea has grown. Innovation is the process of taking new ideas and implementing them into the market.

“When imagining a design, there are several ingredients: the medium, me (the other medium), and the mystery (the pieces themselves), which often seem to push forth their own story,” said Hulburt. Her handcrafted jewelry will be on display and available for sale at her booth.

The festival is free to the public.

“I am so pleased by the response from local artists and artisans as well as our members. Last year we had fantastic reviews about the organization of the festival, the quality of art, location and entertainment,” said Rossi. Other activities at the festival will include the Gloria McLellan silent art auction, conducted to raise money.

“Donations from our artists with the net proceeds benefiting local high school seniors seeking a degree in visual arts,” said Rossi. The Agawam Rocks group will also be at the festival. Jen Baginski from Agawam Rocks will be honoring the memory of her late brother, Frank Baginski.

“The public is invited to take part in our “Agawam Rocks” painting group. This is a free activity for all and the theme this year is rock painting for ‘Frank the Snake.’ Frank is being displayed at School Street Park in Agawam,” said Rossi.

There will be rock painting, live entertainment, artists, and artisans demonstrations at the booths.

“We have enlisted Handler and Levesque to entertain us with two days of wonderful guitar and mandolin music. This husband and wife duo are from Vernon, Connecticut, and are very well known for their performances here and abroad,” said Rossi. 

For more information, visit or contact Ceil Rossi at 413-207-1247.

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