GREAT CRANBERRY ISLAND — Decorating pet rocks, painting fabric and crafting grass-hair heads are activities that have been done this summer at the Smart Shack on Cranberry Road. The Smart Shack is a creative safe haven where both visiting and local children can create art.
Year-round Great Cranberry Islander and Smart Shack coordinator Darlene Sumner said that the shack assigns a different craft every week during the summer. The goal is to offer crafts, games and activities to children. This shed, which is open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, is free for kids to enjoy.
Renowned island artist Wini Smart lived and painted on Great Cranberry Island. During that time, her painting shed was located on the beach near the town dock. Her shack was preserved and moved to its current location across from the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society.
In 2019, two years after Smart’s death, there was a three-building “village” dedicated in her honor. One of those buildings was Smart’s old painting studio, dubbed the Smart Shack, which has since been used to teach art to children. Near the shack stands a memorial bench dedicated to Smart that reads, “She lived her dream to paint an island.”
Every summer, the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society holds a benefit art show in Smart’s honor. This year, the Wini Smart Benefit Art Show, which ran Aug. 9-20, featured the youth art that was made in the Smart Shack. The proceeds of the show were donated to the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society, which start the shack. The Youth Art Show provided kids with a chance to display and talk about their art.
The children who choose to participate in the show can be visiting for the day, week, or living on Great Cranberry Island year-round. Whatever crafts children feel comfortable showcasing will be displayed.
“We are not picky as far as what goes in it – it could be a stick man,” Sumner said. “As long as they are passionate about it, art is really all relative.”
The Smart Shack operates completely on a volunteer basis and on a donation-fueled budget. Donations can be made to the GCIHS with Smart Shack written in the memo. Item donations are always welcome.