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By Geena Matuson
Hometown Weekly Staff
If you were in Medfield last Saturday night, you may have noticed a giant, white tent radiating jazz and salsa music outside the Zullo Gallery. Each year, the Zullo Gallery Center for the Arts hosts a one-night arts and music fundraising festival right in the heart of Medfield. Sponsored by Needham Bank, this year’s fun-filled night offered a seemingly endless supply of food contributed by local businesses, open bar, jazz and salsa bands - along with salsa lessons - a live auction, and more.
Dubbed ‘Zullo Arts Festival,’ the event began in 2007 as a fundraising initiative, driving all proceeds to the charitable cause of maintaining our local art gallery. Gallery Executive Director Bill Pope, known to some as Medfield’s former school librarian and gym teacher, shared the subtle inspiration behind the idea for this outdoor gala. “The idea was to have a fundraiser to help the gallery. But, the gallery is a small space for what we hoped to be a large event, so after many ideas, we decided to rent a tent, get a band, and attract at least 150 people.” Now in its seventh year, this annual festival raises funds for the gallery’s operating budget and incurred costs as space continually grows and develops, with new programs such as expanding art classes, staff pay, and space improvements. This year, roughly 175 people were in attendance, filling the tent and spilling over to the gazebo area and into the gallery itself.
The event opened as the sun set around 7 p.m., and the Medfield High School Jazz Band took the stage. Drummers Nolan Melia and Gavin Connelly alternated while playing with Dana Cruickshank on bass, Dan Stromland on guitar, and Anton Derevyanko on saxophone. As event-goers filed into the tent, catered food was set up by Event Planner Jill Moran of JSMoran Special Events aided by student volunteers from the National Art Honors Society at Medfield High School. While tickets to the event are $75 per person, attendees receive more than just ‘a little something’ for their patronage. Local businesses such as Brother’s Market, Casa Bella Pizza, Larkin’s Wine & Spirits, Medfield Wine Shoppe, Noon Hill Grill, Takara, Go Fresh, Jing’s II, Basil Restaurant, Rock’N’Roll Rib Joint, Blue Moon Bagel Cafe, and even the just-opened restaurant ‘Avenue’ donated their food and services for event patrons. One attendee commented, “all this food and live music, not to mention the drinks - you could never get all of this for just $75!”
As the night continued, Medfield Public Schools Music Director Doug Olsen, 2015 recipient of the Golden Foundation Award for Excellence in Education, took the stage with his band, East Coast Salsa. All band members are professors at Berklee College of Music, and play throughout New England and beyond, including with the Boston Pops. Halfway through their set, a group salsa lesson was announced, with many taking part.
The Zullo Gallery itself was also open to the public, the final night of the show “Treasures from the Lost & Found,” featuring artworks by Susan Ahern, Brenda Goldman, Linda Perlman Karlsberg, Toni Jo Richards, Ruth Scotch, Laura Sullivan, Julie Angela Theresa, and Kaleigh Watson.
At approximately 9:30, the live auction began. Taking the stage as auctioneer was Russ Hallisey, realtor and attorney, member of both Medfield Lion’s Club and MEMO. Items for auction included rental space with the gallery; a party with local artist, storyteller and Medfield Afterschool Program Director Kurt Jackson; several vacation properties; dinners at restaurants such as Zebra’s Wine & Bistro; and a beautiful, sterling silver cuff bracelet by Caroline Ballou. Most bids surpassed estimated value, providing the Zullo Gallery with funding for programming throughout the year.
The Zullo Gallery is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization originally created by the Medfield Council on the Arts to support and promote the arts through the exhibition of a wide range of fine artwork. It is a place for art exhibition, art education and live music performances. To learn more about Zullo Gallery’s events and programming, visit them at 456A Main Street in Medfield, MA or online at http://zullogallery.org.