The Festival is an offering of Art, and it’s all free. What could be better than that?
Jean Fogle entered the Logo Contest in 1975 and won. A year later, she and her family moved to Marblehead. Jean’s initial connection to the Festival was as an artist entering work. She would call her friends and try to get them to enter. She says, “Then, my involvement just kind of grew.”
Artist Jean Fogle, her husband, actor and photographer John, and their oldest daughter Lauren moved to Marblehead from Boston’s South End in August of 1974. During their first year in town they heard several people talk about the Marblehead Festival of Arts which had taken place earlier that summer. In the spring of 1975 Jean decided to create a logo design and enter it into the Festival’s Annual Logo Competition. Her design won and that was the start of Jean’s ongoing involvement with the Festival, both as an artist and a volunteer. Jean recalls that it was great to win after just moving into town. “We met a lot of people that way.”
One of Jean’s earliest volunteer involvements was as the Co-chair of the Children’s portion of the Festival of Arts. She Co-chaired with Nancy Sarles and Kim Hunter were the presidents of the Festival Board that year. What Jean remembers most is that it was a great thing to get involved in, since like Jean and Nancy, many of the other volunteers were also young mothers. “I remember the children’s part of the Festival as being non-stop all weekend and running from activity to activity. We loved it and so did the kids.” At the beginning Jean and Nancy were given a loose leaf folder which had some information on what they needed to do. They were allowed to add a lot of activities and there was a good-sized budget for hiring jugglers, singers and other performers. One of Jean’s funniest recollections was that she and Nancy hadn’t realized that the bell at Abbot Hall was going to start ringing at noon on the 4th of July and go on for at least a half hour! “We had performers scheduled back to back and when the bell started ringing the performance was completely drowned out. We hadn’t planned on the noise and had other things scheduled for the next time slot so we just had to laugh and move on. The poor performer didn’t know what to do.” Jean served as a Board member and Co-chair of the Painting Exhibit, and is a frequent volunteer at the Face Painting at the Children’s Festival which her granddaughter now attends. Jean’s daughter Lauren has also Co-chaired the Children’s Festival. The involvement has become a family affair.
In the late 70’s only the Painting Exhibit was up at Abbot Hall but most of the churches were used for exhibit space too. Jean recalls a real spirit of cooperation and of getting things done. The whole community seemed to get together to work on things like preparing the “flats” (the flat panels used for hanging the art during the Festival). She wishes that there was more attention to some of those things that used to bring people together. She recalls that Board wasn’t as big as it is now and there seemed to be more young people involved in the exhibits and activities. Jean says that she’d like to see fewer pieces hung on the flats so that the art work has more space.
One interesting recollection was of a Festival Season sometime in the 80s when Jean, as well as several people she knew, had art work that was not selected for the juried show. Someone came up with the idea of hosting a Salon de Refuses modeled after the famous Paris Salon of Refuses of 1863. It was held at someone house or apartment near Mugford Street and the artists enjoyed being part of the rejected artists show.
The artists and their work are the core of the Festival and Jean felt they needed something special just for them. She helped organize small artist receptions in the venues the night before the Festival began. The artists liked the idea and enjoyed mixing and see each other’s work. Venues had wine and cheese like at a gallery opening. The festival no longer has these small receptions and instead has an Awards Night with a reception open to the awardees and the public. It’s held on the lawn of Abbot Hall the night before the Festival officially begins.
Jean describes herself as an artist who also does decorative painting and faux finishes on walls and furniture through her company Pigments of the Imagination. She is also a muralist and a set designer (her husband John has recently retired as the Artistic Director of the Salem Theatre Company). During most Festival seasons Jean has work entered in one or more of the exhibits including, Painting, Crafts, Drawing, Printmaking and/or Mixed Media. She says that the addition of the Mixed Media Exhibit was a real plus for artists whose work was hard to categorize and who wanted to work in non-traditional ways. Her husband John frequently enters work in the Photography Exhibit and was instrumental in starting the Film Festival component of the Marblehead Festival of Arts.
Jean is available for faux finish work in homes and commercial spaces and offers art classes for children. She can be contacted at www.jeanfogle.com . This June her work will be on display at the gallery space at Alex and Company on Front Street in Salem. She is also scheduled to have a show at the Abbot Pubic Library in Marblehead in 2016.