Return of Cultural Chaos draws art-loving crowd

  • The Jacob Smith Jazz Trio kicked off the annual Cultural Chaos street festival with style Saturday in downtown Easthampton.  FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Magnolia the Poetry Fairy of Easthampton conjures poems and magical spells for anyone who asks for one, during Cultural Chaos Saturday along the streets of downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • “Magnolia the Poetry Fairy” (Lori Shollenberger) of Easthampton conjures poems and magical spells for passers-by during Cultural Chaos Saturday in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Aerialist Kayla Banks performs with ropes for an attentive crowd Saturday during the Cultural Chaos Street Festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Aerialist Kayla Banks performs with ropes for an attentive crowd Saturday during the Cultural Chaos street festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Lisa Rudolph of Boston, formerly with SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton, performs Saturday during the Cultural Chaos street festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Lisa Rudolph of Boston, formerly with SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton performs with hoops Saturday during the Cultural Chaos street festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Lisa Rudolph of Boston, formerly with SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton performs with hoops Saturday during the Cultural Chaos Street Festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • A floating upright piano sculpture adorns Nashawannuck Pond as part of a floating sculpture installation put on for Cultural Chaos in downtown Easthampton Saturday.  FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Young Artist Bear [DJ Daniels] of Easthampton sells impromptu illustrations to a line of kids Saturday during the Cultural Chaos street festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Lisa Rudolph of Boston, formerly with SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton performs with hoops Saturday during the Cultural Chaos street festival in downtown Easthampton.  FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Audrey Douglass shows off her Rex Bunny Theodore during the Cultural Chaos street festival in downtown Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2022 8:25:49 PM
Modified: 6/12/2022 8:23:32 PM

EASTHAMPTON — After a two-year hiatus, thousands of people hit the downtown on Saturday for the return of the city’s annual Cultural Chaos arts festival.

With aerial performers from SHOW Circus Studio twirling through the air, Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy teaching passers-by how to fence and goats from Sage Meadow Farm interacting with families, the Cottage Street Cultural District was transformed into a sea of festivalgoers.

“It just might be the biggest turnout yet,” said Easthampton City Arts coordinator Pasqualina Azzarello.

The Cultural Chaos arts festival was first launched in 2014 and is normally held on the second Saturday of June. The event typically brings more than 10,000 people to Cottage Street, showcasing the city’s arts scene and providing a boost to local businesses. For the past two years, the daylong event has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s festival also included the largest makers market ever held at Cultural Chaos with more than 50 vendors and community tables.

Among the vendors selling her crafts was Ananda Wilson of Gather Perfume. Wilson, who has a background in contemporary dance, has been formulating perfumery since 2003. She studied the craft at Providence Perfume Co. in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

She grew up creating healing oils and skin care products with her mother, who was an herbalist.

In her work, Wilson uses mostly plant materials as she creates tinctures in her home in South Hadley and wildcrafts, or harvests plants from their natural environment for medicinal purposes. Her perfume is available at TSVGA Parfvms, a perfume store at 32 Cottage St.

Another artisan selling custom creations was jewelry maker Meegan Schreiber of Sunderland. After taking a metalsmithing class in Somerville more than a decade ago, she’s cultivated her craft into a business that sells customized and one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.

For Cultural Chaos, Schreiber said she spent hours individually cold-forging 15 bangles by hand.

“The result is 15 different bangles with unique hammer strikes and textures. It’s very satisfying,” she said.

Clad in a dress made of box packaging, Lori Shollenberger, who goes by “Magnolia the Poetry Fairy,” typed out poems — or the occasional magical spell — to those in need. As a pagan, she said, she does spells, and as a poet, she writes lyrics.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” she said. And why spells? “Where else would you get that but Easthampton?”

Staff writer Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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