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The Yankee Express

Grafton artists are among award winners at 5th annual Festival

Grafton’s Amanda Conyers captured first place in the People’s Choice Photography category at the fifth annual SSFA.


This year’s fifth annual Small Stones Festival of the Arts attracted entrants from far and wide, but there was also no shortage of strong local talent.

The nifty “Crow on Top” by Ria Hill of Uxbridge was deemed the winner in the Juror’s Choice Fine Art category at the Small Stones Festival of the Arts.

The People’s Choice awards for the 2022 version of the Festival were captured by Bonnie Frederico in the Fine Art category for her oil painting “Peonies” and Amanda Conyers in the Photography category for her “Eye to Eye.”
Both live in the town of Grafton.
Also, Ria Hill of Uxbridge placed first in the Juror’s Choice for Fine Art with her “Crow on Top.”
Opening Night of the Festival in the Great Hall saw artists mingling with those checking out the painting and photography on display and marking their choices for first, second and third in each category. Excitement carried throughout the week as the Festival’s other events took place. A highlight for many were remarks made by Grafton’s own Nicholas Gage on “A Writer’s Life,” with special attention given to his mother Eleni, who was executed during the Greek Civil War while trying to help her children escape to safety.

 The pastel “Peonies” by Grafton’s Bonnie Frederico was a People’s Choice first place winner in the Fine Art category of the Small Stones Festival of the Arts.

Reading from notes, Mr. Gage struggled to control his emotions as he talked about his mother.
Ms. Frederico has been a decorative painter since 1973 and says she was interested in painting from early childhood, “even if it just meant helping to paint my family home. As the years passed, my enthusiasm didn’t change.”
The first place awards in the juried Fine Art painting and photography exhibition held at the Great Hall, One Grafton Common, were Pam Short of Lancaster for her pastel “Beauty in My Own Back Yard” and Kenneth Salmone of Attleborough for his photograph “On the Rocks.”
An accomplished artist, Ms. Short entered her painting on a whim and was surprised and delighted to learn she had taken first place, according to SSFA Publicist Dana Wilson. Ms. Short enjoys painting landscapes, seascapes, animals and wildlife and buildings. Pastels are her preferred medium. She believes “beauty is everywhere if you choose to see it.” Her work has been featured in the Fruitland Museum Shop, Petersham Craft Center and at the NOA Gallery at the Groton Inn.
Mr. Salmone quoted Henry David Thoreau in asserting that “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” to explain his approach to photography. He has traveled extensively to find beautiful places but says “I still manage to discover overlooked and often unseen snippets of beauty within the small, natural worlds” close to home.
Ms. Short and Mr. Salmone both received $500 first-place winnings for their work.
The exhibition featured contributions by ninety artists with one hundred forty-three pieces on display at the Great Hall. Five regional art organizations—Apple Tree Arts, the Blackstone Valley Art Association, the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra, the Shakespeare Club of Grafton and the Worcester County Camera Club—collaborated to develop a multi-genre festival with a variety of programs illuminating different art forms.
Lectures by prominent authors and educators, a dramatic reenactment of a literary figure, a musical lecture on abstract form and structure and talks of interest to artists and art supporters were offered.
The Festival’s hardback printed exhibition catalog is available online at Participating artists reside in communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont—and elsewhere.
Planning for the 2023 Small Stones Festival of the Arts will start early next year. The Organizing Committee is considering a midsummer date for the Art Call. Contact Ken Cramer at [email protected] if you are interested.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.