Watercolors: Storm shortens art show; rain interrupts judging

By on August 3, 2016

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The 50th Lititz Outdoor Art Show started off with hazy sunshine and steamy heat. By 2 p.m., Lititz Springs Park was awash with rain. Not just a few sprinkles. It was really raining.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve had to call it a day because of rain,” art show director Beth Kaylor Brunner said. “We kept hoping it wouldn’t last long, but that’s not what the radar says.”

She was right.

The local weather map showed a big bright yellow and orange storm hanging out right over Lititz Springs Park. That might be fun for the ducks, but not the artists.

Brunner notified the exhibitors that they were free to pack up and avoid the next storm that was on its way. Winners in the art show would be notified by email, and checks would be mailed later.

“I don’t even know where all the judges are right now,” Brunner said, adding that they were right in the middle of judging and got caught in the rain. “I guess they had to take cover.”

Lots of people did. The Oehme Gazebo was a good place to get out of the rain. There was Moravian sugar cake for sale and a nice view of the very wet park. Children played on the steps and tried to catch raindrops.

Nearby, John Stevens Water Colors was completely covered by a white plastic tent. When you paint in watercolors, rain is a big deal.

All was well around 1 p.m., although the sky was a milky gray. It was hot and humid. Sales were brisk. Art-lovers were buying framed prints, original paintings, greeting cards, pottery and pastels. The artists were chatting with their fans.

Then, in an instant it seemed, the sky turned dark and wind began to rustle through the trees. Plastic coverings flapped in the breeze that was turning gusty.

“Uh-oh, better hurry,” one exhibitor said as he and his wife scrambled to cover their art in earnest. Most of the artists seemed well equipped with thick plastic tents.

At first it seemed the rain would pass through quickly. Art lovers got out their umbrellas. Sure enough, the rain came and went. Artist Bertie Brown peered out from her tent to see if it was done. Not quite.

In a few moments, thunder could be heard, the wind started up and umbrellas began to turn inside out. The rain began to fall heavier than before. That’s when Brunner decided it was time to call it.

“It’s not fair to have them stay. I’m hoping they have time to pack up and keep their work dry,” Brunner said as another brief break let artists do just that. Most were parked in the nearby park parking lot.

By 3 p.m. or so, the park was almost completely clear of artists and buyers. The rain was falling and thunder continued.

“I’m glad we got the morning and early afternoon in. I think artists were having a good day,” Brunner said. “Nothing you can do about rain.”

In the art show’s 50-year history, only once was the event rained out by a torrential storm. A few times, showers hampered the show, but artists were able to carry on. Brunner could recall two or three times when the show had to end early because of rain.

The show is, after all, rain or shine. For the 50th show, it was 50 percent shine and 50 percent rain.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance writer. She welcomes reader feedback at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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