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Joy Grannis Wins Common Ground Country Fair Art Contest

Joy Grannis created the beebalm artwork for the 2020 Common Ground Country Fair.
Joy Grannis
 

June 1, 2020

A strong combination of nature, nurture and determination led Joy Grannis to create the winning design featuring native bee balm (Monarda didyma) flowers and honeybees for the 2020 Common Ground Country Fair art contest.

Grannis comes for a family of artists. Her uncle was a talented goldsmith, her grandmother was a screen printer, and her aunt is a sculptor – and everyone in her family, including her four sisters and one brother, is “really creative” – her brother as a woodworker and furniture maker, for example; one sister in health care, another in the food industry; “all amazingly creative,” says Grannis.

Add to that several years of homeschooling in Pembroke, Maine, in Washington County. “I definitely think homeschooling played a huge role” in my creativity, says Grannis. She and her siblings “had some structure covering the basics, but we were encouraged to focus on what naturally drew us in. That was art for me, and writing and being outside.”

The kids also had daily chores on the homestead, where the family raised all of its own vegetables as well as turkeys and chickens.

“We were homeschooled until we decided individually that we wanted to go to school.” For Grannis that meant a 45-minute bus ride each way to Washington Academy in East Machias, where “I took art every year. They had a nice art program.”

From there she went on to the University of Southern Maine, where she started as an art major and then switched to environmental planning and policy, earning a bachelor’s degree in that field with a minor in applied energy. She continued to study book art at USM at the same time, which was fun: “I could weave my interest in environmental studies into the books that I was making.”

After graduation she worked in the sustainable building and energy field but decided to move back into art to meet her creativity needs. Living in Portland, she had been bartending at Isa Bistro in the evenings, which gave her time during the day to focus on art. That situation was “perfect,” she says, although as we went to press, she hadn’t been bartending since the COVID-19 virus shut down restaurants.

Grannis now has her own garden and enjoys others’ in East Bayside, where “there are so many beautiful gardens in the neighborhood.” In fact she did her bee balm sketch by viewing her neighbor’s garden from home. Grannis herself grows several herbs – rosemary, sage, lavender and others – as well as a lot of native flowers and, in the shaded parts of her garden, hostas, phlox, irises and more. This year she is installing a few raised beds for a kitchen garden.

Members of the MOFGA board of directors, staff and the Common Ground Country Fair Steering Committee selected Grannis’ design from among 66 entries from Maine residents or MOFGA members. This was the third time she had entered the contest. She recommends that those submitting designs “pay attention to the guidelines; it’s important to follow those rules. It does provide structure. It really worked for me. I thought about them a lot for the second one and even more for the third one. Think about the context your work will be in – on T-shirts, posters, and so on. Everyone will be viewing it.” Aside from that, she says to “draw every day; keep creating every day. Do what you love and something good will come out of it” – as it did with her watercolor and gouache bee balm work.

Speaking of love, Grannis says that she loves the Fair. “You feel so comforted. Like the world is going to be OK.” The 44th annual Common Ground Country Fair is scheduled for September 25 to 27, when products with Grannis’ design will be available. Meanwhile, the 2020 poster is available at MOFGA’s online Country Store.


About Bee Balm

While Monarda didyma supports honeybees, it also provides nectar for bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and caterpillars of some moth species feed on its foliage. Deer and other herbivores do not favor its aromatic leaves and stems. A member of the mint family, bee balm substituted for tea from China after the Boston Tea Party, and Native Americans used the plant, calling it Oswego tea. Also called wild bergamot, the perennial is easy to grow in a fertile, evenly moist soil. Give it plenty of space (18 to 24 inches between plants) to minimize the chance of powdery mildew.


Enter the Art Contest for the 2021 Fair

For details about entering the Common Ground Country Fair art contest, please visit https://mofga.org/The-Fair/Poster. The postmark deadline for entries for the 2021 Fair is Monday, August 3, 2020. Hand-delivered submissions must be in the MOFGA office by Monday, August 10, 2020, at 4 p.m. The winning artist receives $2,500, an article in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, a one-year subscription to that newspaper, and MOFGA issues a press release about the selected design and artist.

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