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  • By Sarah J. Bartholomew

Artists share their stories at the Atalaya Arts Festival: Q&A

Editor`s note: This article is part one of a series.

The Atalaya Arts Festival is an annual event held at Huntington Beach State Park which attracts artists from across the country. This year’s event ran from Friday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 29. These artists told their stories of inspiration, travel, and even the hardship of venturing into the career field of creativity. 

This first interview is with Dennis Clarke, who was present at the festival on behalf of artist and South Carolina native, Sarah Sanders. 

Would you mind sharing a bit about Sarah Sanders and her story? 

Sarah lives on Goat Island, it’s off the Isle of Palms. It’s only accessible by boat, and she was the first full time resident back in 1969. She’s a retired school teacher and coach. When she retired, she started making these treasure boxes, and her friend has a framing shop, and she just picked up the leftovers that she had and started making boxes out of them. Now she’s turned it into a business. She buys them in 12-foot lengths, the picture frame moldings, and makes boxes. She designs finials to put on top of them and she just turned 78 years old. 

What do you enjoy in this line of work? 

The people! 

Meeting new people? Coming to shows? 

Yeah, just talking with people. 

Leslie Peebles whose work focuses on line cuts, wood cuts, and caustics spoke about her art. 

What got you started in the medium? 

Well, when I was an art teacher 25 years ago, the high school teacher next door said, ‘I hate linoleum, do you want all these supplies for your middle school students?’ and I said yes. And so, I’ve been doing line-a cut ever since. And I just, I have a degree in painting and drawing, but the line-a cuts just, just spoke to me.  

Would you mind talking about how you like fantasy, surrealism, and magic? 

Yeah! I have a lot of really remarkable dreams. I have an amazing dream life and so I started doing surreal art as you know, to record my dreams. And that’s moved into doing more like, fantasy and fairytale as well. 

So, tell me about the different shows you have been a part of- where all have you traveled, sharing your art?  

Oh goodness, well I did the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in May. 

I haven’t heard of that! 

Oh my god, it is amazing. It is one of the best shows in the nation. And Winter Park in Florida and Coconut Grove . . .  I’ve done Artists Fear in Greeneville, South Carolina which is amazing- that’s a first-tier show. It’s a great show. I’ve been all over the Eastern seaboard, and West, I guess New Orleans is about as far West as I’ve gone. 

Would you mind sharing what exactly happened to get you on the cover of Atalaya’s handout for this year’s contest? 

Well, I was a first place winner last year in print making, . . . so I got on all the promotional materials. They do all that- best of show, and first and second is on that. 

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