Three Can’t-Miss Newport Spring Events: Connecting Newport Festivals with Art

In April, Newport sailors put finishing touches on their boats and get ready to launch. We all welcome milder temps. Festivals and local businesses participate in outdoor activities that inspire works of art. Bowen’s Wharf is home to amazing art galleries that explore spring after a long New England winter. Our galleries & shops are influenced by Newport events and in turn the events inspire our curators.

Susan Sheldon’s gallery, Sheldon Fine Art, has been part of Bowen’s Wharf since 1983. One of three locations in the U.S, the gallery represents local artists as well as national and international painters. Known for their maritime work Sheldon hosts a variety of spring and floral-themed paintings that brighten up homes and yachts.

“We try to hang pieces based on what’s happening downtown,” says Sheldon employee Alexandra DeMasi.

Daffodil Days: April 18th - 25th

W.C. Nowell’s oil paintings are traditional still lives, meaning he only paints from life rather than photos. Nowell’s floral arrangements are known for their intense color and intricate detail. His piece Daffodil’s in Cobalt is a strong example of this as well as a timely connection to the upcoming Daffodil Days Festival.

Daffodil Days is a volunteer-based event in support of Daffodillion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to beautifying the city of Newport with one million daffodils; a goal to create art in nature. Let your inner artist blossom by attending the Dabble and Doodle the Daffy’s event on April 15th, or join us here at Bowen’s & Bannister’s wharves for opening ceremonies April 14th.

Newport Oyster Festival: May 18th - 20th

Sheldon Fine Art presents oyster impressionist paintings by Ray Simonini. Originally from China, Simonini was first influenced by comic books and today continues to use an illustrative style.

“The oysters he paints for our gallery are a huge hit with seafood lovers, especially during Oysterfest!” says DeMasi.

Bowen's Wharf Newport Oyster Festival is presented with Moet & Chandon. Known as Oysterfest by the locals, the three-day event begins with an all-you-can-enjoy oyster party on May 18th to benefit three Rhode Island non-profits. Over the weekend attendees can taste their way around the Ocean State with an assortment of different oysters from 12 growers along with lobster, fish & shellfish dishes from five restaurants.  Come find your pearl, but get tickets online before they sell out. 


Right next door to Sheldon’s is Kristen Coates, art and home gallery, where Grace Windsor oyster canvases mingle with fresh floral bouquets, locally-made candles and Newport-themed & curated gifts. 

Volvo Ocean Race, Newport Stopover: May 8th - 20th

The storefront window-decorating competition, “Paint the Town” involves local businesses during this round-the-world sailing event.

At Sheldon you’ll find one of their most popular painters, Ken Zier, who is also well-liked across Europe. His style blends pointillism and expressionism by using a controlled paint splatter method, as well as short brushstrokes to represent light reflecting off the water's surface. The effect creates uniquely contemporary seascapes with sailboats seen in the distant. His work, such as Unforgettable Evening Race, resonates with locals and sailors alike, as it reflects the maritime legacy of Newport and active racing scene, and also connects to the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race.

Newport has participated in various sailing activities, such as hosting America’s Cup races for 53 years until 1983. This May, the Volvo Ocean Race, a world-class racing event, makes its only US Stopover in Newport. This year will be the race’s second consecutive time in the city with in-port racing and the start of the new leg to Cardiff, Wales. Boats, racing and the exploration zone will be at Fort Adams starting May 8th with the departure weekend coinciding with Newport Oyster Festival, May 18th to the 20th.