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A Whale of a Time

By Lisa Leigh Connors

Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer

Vibrantly colored whales—nearly 60 of them—will once again be making a splash at Chatham’s Kate Gould Park this summer.

Art in the Park is an annual outdoor exhibition that takes place in the heart of the downtown and showcases the creativity of local artists. Whale cutouts are transformed into one-of-a-kind pieces of art, incorporating everything from paintings of coastal scenes and sea life to abstract images and whimsical folk art. And the materials aren’t just limited to acrylic or latex paint. Mosaics, resin and photographs also create eye-catching designs and rich textures.

Originally known as Sharks in the Park, this public art installation was first established in 2013 and has incorporated different themes over the years. In addition to sharks and whales, artists have decorated mermaids and cutouts shaped like the iconic “arm” of the Cape. The majestic mammals, however, proved to be the most popular: Last year’s whales earned a record amount.

Here’s how it works: During the winter months, businesses and organizations sponsor a whale and connect with a local artist to create their artistic magic on a blank whale canvas. An online auction is open throughout the summer. When the auction closes, half of the proceeds go to the artists. The remainder of the proceeds helps to support events, activities and town-wide projects to enhance the beautiful town of Chatham.

“The art exhibit attracts visitors from all over the world, and in turn, helps boost business,” says organizer Janice Rogers, adding that the group also sponsors the Oars in the Stores scavenger hunt every summer.

Stello Construction, which has been involved with Art in the Park from the beginning, donates its services by cutting out the whale shapes from Versatex, a durable material used for house trim. “This community has been really good to me,” says Robert Stello. “To see all of the summer people here with their kids, it’s a worthwhile event and it’s exciting to see all of the families here enjoying this art display together.”

Art in the Park will be on display through Aug. 20. For more information and to bid on a whale, visit chathaminfo.com.

Art in the Park will be installed on June 11 at Kate Gould Park on Main Street and will be on display through mid-August. For more information, visit echatham.com/chathamartinthepark.net

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