BETHEL — The ninth annual Shy, Novice and Closeted Art Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 6, at 18 High St. and will coincide with the Bethel Art Fair.

Janet Willie, the creator of the event, said she came up with the idea for a low-pressure art show nine years ago.

“I was in the middle of art therapy as a cure to depression,” Willie said. “It was really nothing; I was just throwing some color onto paper. I naively showed some of my drawings at the Norway Art Festival, and my art was really different from the other stuff there. It really showed. It was something that either attracted or repelled people.”

Willie, who said that she was “some nobody artist doing some art” at the time, decided to start her own art show to give local artists “the opportunity for encouragement.

“I sent in a blurb to the Bethel Citizen nine years ago, and during that first year, I had 34 artists respond,” Willie said. “That was the lowest number I’ve had participate since it started.”

This year Willie said she already has more than 40 artists participating and expects more to show up at the last minute.

“I remember during the first year, it was in the evening, and I heard a knock on my side door,” Willie said. “I went to open it, and there was a farmer standing there in his overalls. He asked in a real quiet voice, ‘Ma’am, do you think I could put my paintings in your show?’ I get people like that all the time, coming in at the last minute. It really is amazing. We get people of every socioeconomic group.”

Willie said she accepts all styles and genres of art and tries to limit each person to six pieces each.

“I get people who bring in clay sculptures, paper-mache, wire, jewelry,” she said. “Right now, I’m staring at some beautiful pieces of wood that someone found on a fishing trip, and they carved it into something really nice. There’s a tattoo artist that brings in photographs of some of the tattoos he’s done. We even get some people that bring in poetry.”

Many artists who participate in Willie’s art show have moved on to art shows that offer a little more pressure.

“Some of the artists who come here are so shy that I’ve never seen the whites of their eyes,” Willie said. “But I’ve had some artists come through and say that the show gave them a boost of confidence. I have one artist who graduated from this art show and is now selling her paintings around the world. It’s a fabulous thing.”

Willie said she always leaves a spot open for the “shy artist who shows up late and decides at the last minute that they want to participate.”

“I wish I could recount all the different stories over the years of these shy artists coming out and showing the community what they can do,” Willie said. “Art is a godsend to the psyche, and I think without it, we’d shrivel up.”

For more information, call 824-3889 or email Willie at [email protected]

[email protected]


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