Ocean City Today

Art’s Alive! is nice, but is it worth it?

Jun 29, 2017



printed 06/30/2017


Poor Art’s Alive! First, it was kicked off the Boardwalk in its first incarnation as Arts Atlantica after shopkeepers complained that the artists’ booths spaced out along the boards were bad for business.

Now, the 17-year-old annual event has been moved out of its June slot at Northside Park because it’s not a sports tournament … and has no ice cream and fireworks.

Maybe if it was louder and motorized …

The predicament Art’s Alive! has faced all along is that it quietly attempts to breathe a little culture into an area where apparently there’s not much demand for it.

People don’t sit on the curb and watch art go by. They don’t come to town to watch a favorite sculpture round the bases, or do a burnout, or to cheer when an oil painting swishes through the hoop.

Art’s Alive! is not noisy enough, not frenzied enough and not everyone gets a ribbon for participating, thus it doesn’t put heads in beds, which is what Ocean City commerce is all about.

Ironically, the people it does draw — sales slips and charge card receipts show that many buyers are from out of town — are of the type that Ocean City business and government representatives have been saying the resort needs more of — well-behaved and well-heeled.

Anyone present at the Art League of Ocean City reception Monday for artist Yumi Hogan, Gov. Larry Hogan’s wife, knows exactly the kind of people who attend — and buy — at these fine arts and crafts fairs.

The question is if Art’s Alive! could reach the same level of success as the Rehoboth Art League’s summer show, with an attendance reportedly in the 6,000 range over two weekends, would that be enough to dampen complaints about it getting in the way of less polished, higher volume enterprises?

Although some would argue that Ocean City’s spring and fall festivals offer visitors plenty of arts and crafts, more than a few  vendors in those venues peddle handcrafted crapola as compared to the stunning work by Art’s Alive! artists such as scupltor Aaron Paskins and silversmith Carlos Zepeda, whose creations are worthy of any major city gallery.

Ocean City needs Art’s Alive! and has promised to bring it back next year “bigger and better.” To be answered when that time comes, however, is whether the city will be allowed, politically, to commit the resources necessary to see that happen.

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