WINTHROP — As a professional potter, Mary Kay Spencer exercises the right side of her brain more than most people, regularly working slabs of clay into usable wares, then decorating them with glaze.

Still, Spencer felt momentarily nervous last summer, when she agreed to contribute to an art project in downtown Winthrop. Using a tool that looked like pliers, she cut pieces of orange stained glass into the shape of flower petals, then glued them onto a wooden panel.

“Anytime you use a new tool, and when you work with glass, it provokes anxiety,” said Spencer, who lives in Litchfield. “It’s a totally different medium to work with and produce.”

But the work was safe. And by the end of the day, Spencer was proud to see that her tangerine splashes had been joined by hundreds of other patterns from all quarters of the color wheel: Jade green, cotton candy pink, iridescent blue.

She had contributed to a community art project. As part of Winthrop’s annual Sidewalk Art Festival last year, participants were invited to fabricate their own glass tiles, then affix them to a mosaic that eventually will hang in a conference room at the Town Office.

More than 200 people participated in the project. Some of their arrangements resembled things in the real world: trees, sailboats, the letter “W” for Winthrop. Most were abstract.


“It was fun,” said Spencer, who also participated in last year’s festival as an artist. “The best part is seeing people come from different parts of the community and make something together.”

This weekend, the Winthrop Sidewalk Art Festival will take place again, running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on Main Street. The art show is entering its 31st year and will be part of a larger event, the Winthrop Summer Festival, which runs Saturday and Sunday. Other events include lawn sales, live music and children’s activities.

The organizer of the stained-glass project, Faith Benedetti, again will be inviting people to add tiles to wooden panels this year, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the space that used to be Apple Valley Books.

One of the panels is blank. Another was started during last year’s festival and still has empty space to be covered, Benedetti said during an interview at her home studio. She plans eventually to join those panels with two others completed last year, making a piece that stretches 8 feet long and 8 feet high.

Benedetti started working with stained glass about seven years ago, she said, after taking an adult education class in Readfield.

“I was raised Catholic, so stained glass always had an appeal for me, but I never imagined doing it,” she said. “Then I tried it, and it was so natural to me.”


By inviting passers-by to contribute to the mosaic, Benedetti hopes they too might discover an outlet for expressing themselves.

“I routinely ask people how many opportunities they have to exercise their creativity,” she said. “Mostly, people are starved for opportunities to use creativity, to do something different. … It may be that this is a very simple project. It’s very accessible and not very scary. But that’s the beauty of a piece of community art, that people — hundreds of them — gave up time to make something.”

The arts festival, organized by the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, will take place rain or shine.

On Saturday, the Winthrop Summer Festival also will include various sales at Winthrop United Methodist Church, Winthrop Congregational Church and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, according to an event schedule. There also will be children’s activities throughout the day at Charles M. Bailey Public Library.

On Sunday, live music is scheduled to happen at 2 p.m. at Norcross Point on Maranacook Lake.

More information about the festival is on the Facebook page of the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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