(June 14, 2013) The Ocean City Fishing Center attracts more than just fishermen weighing the day’s catch or Micky Fins’ customers sitting down to a meal. Passionate artists were scheduled to line the bayside boardwalk yesterday during the first showcase of Arts on the Dock this summer to display and sell their handmade creations.
Maria Cupschalk began selling her jewelry in 2010 at the annual makeshift market, now in its 12th year. She is excited this time around for customers to see pieces featuring the Kumihimo braid, a style used in ancient Samurai armor that has recently become popular.
“As soon as I put them out they’re sold,” said the West Ocean City resident. “This thing is so tenacious you can’t even put a needle through it. I can see why [the Samurai] preferred this.”
Cupschalk labels each piece of jewelry with a pamphlet detailing its origin and materials used in its making. She said she enjoys providing the handmade information for customers and that it’s “part of the mystique of the piece.”
This quality is what makes the art show unique. Ocean City Fishing Center Manager Jennifer Blunt said the only rule is that the artists have to make everything by hand. Manufactured items are not permitted in the show, schedule to take place every Thursday until Aug. 29 from 4-7 p.m.
“The show is a myriad of artists that are extremely talented,” Cupschalk said. “We all work at our craft and that is so critically important. Customers know they’re going to get good quality.”
Blunt said the number of artists, which includes painters, photographers, jewelry and clothing makers, among others, fluctuates per week, but usually between 15-20 attend. She said the West Ocean City location also helps draw people to the art show.
“It’s mostly the atmosphere of it,” Blunt said. “It’s fun to be on the marina with the water and people can enjoy happy hour. It’s just a fun, unique place to have the art show.”
Blunt said she has received “quite a few” new entries but many of the artists occupying the dock are returning from previous years like Cupschalk, who works with sterling silver, gold, leather and fiber, among other materials. She said she couldn’t see herself doing anything else.
“I absolutely love art and I’m probably going to die with a paint brush or bead in my hand,” she said with a laugh. “When you love something you’ll do it until the end of time.”
Dana Smith has been selling women’s bags and headbands since the art show’s inception in 2002. She also began making jewelry three years ago and said the art “is like taking a vacation.”
Smith said her pieces made of fish leather are attracting special attention. She said the glazed and dyed leather is much easier to work with than other fabrics and has “amazing effects.”
“It is the coolest stuff ever,” she said. “It leaves behind patterns from the scales of the fish. Customers like you better if you use ocean-y themes and you always have to have something fresh.”
The West Ocean City resident has a day job altering clothes and specializes in wedding attire. Smith, who surfs in her spare time, said she likes the personal quality of the art show. She said she doesn’t shop at department stores because she likes unique products that aren’t mass-produced.
“People who have a few coins to rub together depend on the handmade things from the show,” Smith said.
Blunt said artists can rent space on the dock for $35 per week. A space for the whole season costs $225. Artists interested in signing up can visit www.ocfishing.com and fill out the Arts on the Dock form under the resources tab. The form is sent to Blunt, who can also be seen shopping around the dock from time to time.
“I’m always looking for something for my own home,” she said. “I like that the show has what you can’t find in the local stores here in the tourist-driven town.”