WINTHROP — When artist Robin Gardella does a show, she has something that the others don’t: a tortoise named Pippin.

The Russian tortoise, lounging on a plastic-lined dog bed next to the artist’s displays, lured Winthrop 5-year-old Ella Curtis and her mother into Gardella’s tent Saturday at the Winthrop Summer Festival.

“I really touched it,” she said after petting a tortoise’s shell for the first time.

Gardella, of Augusta, was one of more than 30 artists set up at the downtown art show, and her wares are eclectic. She offers watercolor pen-and-ink drawings, T-shirts and sculptures and, because she’s an archer, custom-made arrow quivers.

“Everything here is just totally out of my head,” she said.

The summer festival, which lasts until Sunday, is in its first year; but the Sidewalk Art Show is in its 28th, with the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the festival’s organizer, adding live music and other events to the program this year.


“The biggest thing that’s exciting for us is pulling everybody together for the events throughout the day to bring people into Winthrop and really make it a festive weekend,” said Sarah Fuller, the chamber’s president and chairwoman of the Winthrop Town Council.

Mary Spencer, of The Potter’s House in Litchfield, recently got her goods into the L.L. Bean Home Store in Freeport; but she was at the festival on Saturday for her 10th year. She called it “a great little show.”

“It’s a very well-supported show, and there’s still a lot of tourists around who support it,” she said.

While Gardella’s art is front and center in her display, Pippin is a draw for her, and she said he “loves kids.” When Ella touched his shell, he brought his head forward from his shell in a preen.

But often, he’s also the artist’s muse. She sold tortoise-themed shirts and sculptures, and he often models for her, she said. She has even taken casts of his shell, and he doesn’t fuss.

“He enjoys it,” she said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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