Art in the Park, the event hosted by the Severna Park Voice and Cafe Mezzanotte, will once again tantalize attendees with inspiring live music, compelling art in multiple mediums, and savory foods on October 1.
The third annual event is family friendly and allows guests to meet musicians and artists, watch their demonstrations and purchase their art, all in a quaint setting behind Cafe Mezzanotte on Ritchie Highway. Local art galleries will bring a collection of their artists’ work, and individual artists will provide demonstrations and answer questions. Providence of Maryland, an organization dedicated to supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is this year’s charity partner.
Get to know some of this year’s participating musicians and artists.
Sweet Leda, a band out of Pasadena, will take center stage for their first Art in the Park festival. Lead singer Julie Cymek said there wasn’t ever a question whether Sweet Leda would bring their rock and soul sound to the event after she received a call from Cafe Mezzanotte owner Kosmas “Tommie” Koukoulis.
“Tommie called and said, ‘I want this event to be awesome, and you guys play so many events and different venues, so I value your opinion,’” Cymek recalled. “He wanted us to come over to walk the courtyard. I thought that was so lovely. He could have sent an email asking, ‘Hey, do you want to play?’ But instead, he made us feel important like we are not just the entertainment but helping to plan the event.”
Sweet Leda has been together for 15 years and shared the stage with Galactic, 311 and Jefferson Starship. In a recent interview with the Severna Park Voice, Cymek described the band as a “blend of new-school funk, psychedelic rock, soul and pop.” More specifically, “a female-fronted, soul-based, [Led] Zeppelin meets [Red Hot] Chili Peppers.”
A big fan of Cafe Mezzanotte’s pasta bowl and casa salad, Cymek is excited for her band to play but also to meet other musicians and artists.
“We are fortunate to have an incredible music scene in our area, really just bursting with talent,” Cymek said. “Musicians support each other, and there is not any competition. We genuinely celebrate each other’s success. And our fans support other bands, too.”
And as for the Cafe Mezzanotte venue, Cymek predicts, “Art in the Park will be a wonderful, magical celebration of so much that our community has to offer: the artists, local farmers through Cafe Mezz’s farm-to-table recipe, local art, music and delicious food. It will be a special day.”
Delaware Blues Hall of Fame and Rehoboth Beach-based Lower Case Blues will also be onstage sharing their blues, rock and funk brand of music.
A native New Yorker, Sheri Ruiz moved to Annapolis with her husband in 2020, and she soon began selling her prints and designs. While traveling to Nevada, Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, and other locations, she snapped imagery that she later enhanced using her specialty: black and white.
“If I see something that interests me, I just start shooting,” she said of her inspiration. “I look for moments.”
Her interest in photography was sparked during a field trip when she was 8 or 9 years old. She borrowed her dad’s Nikon camera and continued to develop her skills.
“I was so at home in the darkroom,” she said. “This was in the early ‘90s and it was so hands-on.”
For Art in the Park, she plans to bring prints from her Annapolis series and home products with her designs, whether it’s textiles or tank tops.
She loves the culture of women and artists at Local by Design, and that makes her excited to participate in her first Art in the Park experience. “I love the sense of community,” she said.
Watercolorist Kathy Daywalt is thrilled to return to Art in the Park to share her latest passion, watercolor on Yupo.
“Merging the arts in one fabulous event is a very interesting way to go,” said Daywalt, who has been creating art for nearly 60 years. “The arts scene is so robust in our area, yet there is never enough for people to do. There are so many local artists to entertain and enrich us.”
Daywalt said she is currently “on a mermaid tangent” and exploring Yupo, a synthetic paper. She loves demonstrating her techniques before other artists and viewers.
“Everyone brings their own self and interpretation to what they are viewing,” Daywalt said. “I love it when people ask me about my art. Art is a great way to connect with people.”
Daywalt’s art has been shown in galleries across the country. Her framed art will be on display and available for purchase with other work from Benfield Gallery artists inside the Cafe Mezzanotte galleries. Daywalt will be outside sharing her art with others, mingling with and learning from other artists, and enjoying the sounds of inspiring live music.
“Art in the Park is fabulous,” said Daywalt, reminding people to practice the arts in big ways and in little ways. “Support artists, go to concerts, come to galleries. These places don’t exist without people supporting them.”
Sandy Travis Bildahl will participate in her third Art in the Park festival.
She feels the transformed locale at Cafe Mezzanotte is a joyous experience of merging community and arts.
“[It’s] a hidden place where all of a sudden, you’re in a very special space and you’ve gotten away when you’re still in the heart of Severna Park,” Bildahl said. “It’s a very joyous experience of merging community and arts.”
Bildahl has been creative her entire life. An artist, a writer and a certified life coach, Bildahl feels that Art in the Park fosters a conversation between artists and the community.
“When you’re being curious, you’re growing, you’re learning and life becomes exciting,” Bildahl said. “I love hearing what they think my painting is about, even if that’s not what I was thinking about when I was painting it.”
Bildahl began painting flowers 30 years ago and has never stopped. Still, she often works well into the evening. Her subject matter flows out of whatever she’s currently curious about, or where she is personally.
Today she works on canvases from six-inch square to 60-inch square. She will share her abstract acrylic on canvas techniques with festival attendees and other artists, while her framed work will be on display and for purchase with other work from Gallery 564 artists inside Cafe Mezzanotte.
“Art in the Park has a very comfortable atmosphere, almost like you’re at a party,” Bildahl said. “I have great conversations, and if anyone there wants to talk to me about my process or their desire to explore creativity in their own life, I’d love to talk to them. It’s fascinating to see how people express themselves.”
Bildahl is enthusiastic about the charity partner for the event.
“This is a tremendous community event, and community means helping each other and encouraging each other,” Bidahl said. “The arts and Providence both are about encouraging others to be their absolute best, that they belong. It will be a very wonderful day.”
More than 100 pieces of art and two bands will be showcased during this event. For tickets, visit the event link.
Zach Sparks contributed to this story.