Artists: GumTree a success

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Artists like Jared Weaver, Amy Leigh Carstensen, and Alisha Case travel the country participating in art festivals, so they’re used to a bit of rain.
That’s a good thing, since the wet weather was a mainstay at the GumTree Festival from Saturday evening through early Sunday morning. Clouds and only a few sprinkles allowed shoppers to browse the booths at the 41st annual event on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been a great festival,” said director Kit Stafford, who called the rain a “little hiccup.”
“These artists won’t let that mess up their weekend. They’re resilient.”
Sculptor Alisha Case shared her booth with Oscar, Beatrice, Roosevelt, Dee Dee and Terrance – her sculptures she makes from old telephones, tea kettles, pots, pans, spoons, rakes and graters.
The Birmingham-based artist, who has shown at GumTree before, said she’s used to the precipitation.
“The rain doesn’t bother me. All in all, it’s still a good GumTree,” she said.
Best in Show winner Amy Leigh Carstensen, an oil painter from Florida, enjoyed her first GumTree Festival, rain or shine.
“It’s always nicer when it’s sunny, but there’s still been plenty of people. There were still a lot of diehard art fans with umbrellas,” she said. “It’s been a great GumTree. I love the town, I love the people. I’d be honored to come back.”
Another new artist at GumTree was Jared Weaver, the “canjo man.”
He makes dulcimer-like instruments out of cans, like Dr. Pepper aluminum cans or Spam containers, and also sells song books and instructions on how to play the canjo.
“The canjo’s been around a long time,” he said as he offered demonstrations for shoppers.
“It’s been pretty busy,” he said. “It was good yesterday, until the rain.”
Stafford said she was happy to see the number of new artists, like Carstensen and Weaver, at the festival.
“We’ve got a lot of new artists,” she said, “and it’s nice to see new faces and new work.”
The GumTree Festival included a few new aspects, like expanded booth space and a concert in Fairpark featuring Corey Smith and Blue Mountain.
The rain stopped long enough for the concert to happen on Saturday evening, Stafford said, and the festival board will decide later if they’ll have a concert again next year.
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com