1 September 2016
Forced out of the house to run an errand in Downtown Mystic, Göran R Buckhorn had to fight his way through tents and stalls on Main Street in Mystic, as the 59th annual Mystic Outdoor Art Festival had taken over town on 13-14 August. But maybe it was worth it this time. Göran writes:
Yearly, the second weekend in August is not a good time to be in Downtown Mystic in Connecticut. Well, unless you are an ‘art lover’ or an artist trying to sell your art work to prospective buyers. On Sunday 14 August, I had to leave the house to run an errand in town. I knew what to expect when I, on foot, approached Main Street. Coming around the corner on to Main Street, there they were, 2 miles of more than 200 small tents and stalls with approximately as many artists as tents: painters, photographers, sculptors, craftspeople and others who have work titles that I did not know existed or are not in my vocabulary. The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce claims that the event attracts around 85,000 people to this little Connecticut town, or village, which I now call home. I doubt that there are that many visitors during this two-day art festival, but there are enough people to make me curse in Swedish – something I do when I am really annoyed.
Struggling my way through tents and crowds, my eyes fell on a sign saying ‘Sports Graphic Art Prints’. To get away from the pushing and shoving among people, I slid into the little stall. On the walls of the stall and in three stands were prints of all kinds of different sports: Baseball, Basketball, Biking, Field hockey, Figure skating, [American] Football, Golfing, Gymnastics, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Martial Arts, Rugby, Running, Sailing, Skateboarding, Skiing, Snowboarding, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Wrestling – and yes, Rowing.
These sports prints are made by artist Bryon Robinson and it is through his company, BIYO ART, customers can purchase the prints. Robinson grew up on a farm in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts. When it was time for college, and not knowing what to do, he jumped on the idea of a cooperative education at Northeastern University in Boston, which ended up with a BS in Electrical Engineering.
‘After 14 years as an engineer I needed a change, so I quit,’ Robinson said and smiled. ‘I incorporated BIYO Ltd in 1990 and began creating artwork and graphic prints of sporting events.’ The company’s name comes from the artist’s nickname “yo”, a nickname he acquired as an engineer – by ‘yo’, BIYO. ‘I got my nickname during the early years of work due to too many engineers answering to the spoken name of “Brian”,’ Robinson said. BIYO is now based in New Hampshire.
In the beginning, he took orders, people contacting him to making a print out of a photograph, but when people brought tons of pictures he soon understood that it would not work. Now, Robinson takes pictures himself, for example at a local rowing regatta, and turns the photographs into graphic prints.
He travels around to different art shows in New England, especially during the summer months, but also to New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Florida. ‘This must be the eighth, ninth, or even tenth time I have come to Mystic for the town’s art show,’ Robinson remarked.
So, how many rowing prints does he have for sale? ‘Right now, I have three,’ he said and continued, ‘but a customer can get them in all kind of different colours or colour combinations.’
There is the eight, “Swinging Eight”; single sculler, “Catch the Moment”; and the stroke in a coxless four, “On the Charles”. Depending on the size of the print, the price is either $45 or $75 with free shipping within the USA. See more details about the rowing prints here.
While Robinson and I were chatting about his rowing prints, a young couple walked in to the tent. It is soon revealed that the lady is a coxswain for a team in Massachusetts. It seems the little village of Mystic attracts not only artists but also coxes and rowers, and one or two odd rowing historians.