Craft fair set to help Johnston, others tap into creative side

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JoAnn Bromley is out to help people access their creative side.

She’ll put that drive on full display this Columbus Day, Oct. 12, as she and her neighbors hold a craft fair at 2111 Plainfield Pike, in a large field accustomed to hosting flea markets.

Bromley told the Sun Rise this week that numerous winter shows and the Scituate Arts Festival – one of the largest of its kind in the region – have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hosting this festival will allow her and plenty of fellow artisans to socially distance but still sell their products. She expects upwards of 40 vendors at the event.

“So I live right up in that area, and my neighbor [the Izzo family] does this flea market every Sunday right on Plainfield Pike, it’s a huge field,” Bromley said. “They’re my neighbors, and I approached them and said, ‘Would you consider doing a craft fair?’ They said, ‘Yeah, sure, how about the Monday?’ I said, ‘Great, let me reach out.’ I know a lot of people. It’s been going crazy. It is so much work, I can’t even believe it. People are desperate to find places to sell their wares.”

It has been a learning experience for Bromley, who has exhausted mostly all of her connections. She’s reached out to Ocean State Artisans on Facebook, “anybody that I gathered a card from [at] different craft shows” and anyone else with whom she had networked.

She said there was some apprehension at first because the fair didn’t have any name recognition, but Bromley allayed those concerns. She’s also become more familiar with payment options like PayPal.

“They’re like, ‘I’ve never heard of this before,’ and I’m like, ‘Look, I’m just a crafter, I just saw an opportunity and I’m trying to make it happen here,’” Bromley said. “They felt comfortable with me once I learned to put up the page and put up a flyer, I made 20 signs. As a matter of fact, I have to go after I finish talking to you and put up the rest of them. They felt much more comfortable and excited, now people are just coming out of the woodwork.”

Her motivation to help others tap into their creativity extends beyond this Monday’s arts festival. She hosts a podcast, called Inner Promptings, aimed at “trying to dispel the belief that you’re not creative.” It’s been on a bit of a hiatus, but she’s bringing the show back this weekend when she interviews one of the vendors.

“I’m very passionate about inspiring people to be creative, tap into their creativity because so many people do not believe that they are creative and that is so not true,” Bromley said. “Everyone is creative. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. I want to inspire and support that, so it’s my dream some day to have an actual building where people can come and learn different art forms.”

Bromley, a self-described “theater person,” also said she would like to open up a space for classes and crafts in the future. With the pandemic, she has been restricted to virtual tutorials over YouTube, and she said the response has been overwhelming.

After all, people need outlets alleviate their anxiety.

“People are stressed beyond stressed,” Bromley said. “It doesn’t seem to be getting any better, it seems to be getting worse. I have a mom who’s 100 years old, she’s rocking it for 100, let me tell you. She gets to see me for 15 minutes once a week. It’s hard, it’s hard on everybody. I think there’s a stress level that we realize … We don’t know how to deal with it, and I think creativity is one of those places where you can express yourself without words, because we have no words.”

Bromley’s advice to those looking to be a bit more creative is to simply try. She pointed to the words within the name of her group, “Artistry Collaborative,” to show that it takes time to hone one’s skills.

“We consider ourselves the home of Try Lab – because in the word ‘artistry,’ there’s the word ‘try,’ and in the word, ‘collaborative,’ there’s the word ‘lab.’ All we ask you to do is try,” Bromley said. “It’s not going to be perfect, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about being an expression of you.”

Bromley said she used to teach a course called, “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting,” based on a 1999 book by Lynn Grabhorn. She’s found it troubling how many folks have a dream, only to shut themselves down and choose not to pursue it.

“I try to open them up by saying, ‘OK, maybe you can’t do that, but you can do this.’ People go, ‘I can’t draw a straight line.’ Maybe you’re not supposed to draw a straight line, maybe you're supposed to draw a crooked line,” Bromley said. “Stop comparing yourself. It’s just a matter of trying to debunk all that crap that’s been fed to you that it has to be a certain way. I look at some art sometimes and go, ‘That’s art?’ It is to somebody!”

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