For over 30 years, local artist Martha Davis Rice has participated in the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival in Cambridge.
It’s an annual highlight for the popular painter, even after suffering a debilitating stroke some seven years ago that left him unable to write, walk, speak or paint.
Rice spent three weeks in the hospital, then six weeks in a nursing home while recovering and rehabilitating.
“When you have a brain injury, you can’t feel it heal,” Rice said. “You can feel other wounds heal, but not a brain injury. Instead, some parts (of the body) are working and others are not.
“I was unable to paint for over a year. I had to relearn how to walk and speak. But by the good Lord he was able to heal me.”
Two motivators for Rice were her husband, Cal, who recently turned 90, and her painting.
“I had to relearn how to drive so I could visit Cal in the hospital,” Rice recalls. “I was in the car one day wondering, ‘how can I do this? “I did it step by step, but I was able to do it so that I could visit him in the hospital and the nursing home.”
As for the painting, there are still bad days but overall it helps Rice, who has won numerous awards over the years for her fine work.
“Sometimes you don’t feel like doing anything,” she said. “But when I paint, I feel good. It’s a motivation.”
The journey back to the festival held the second weekend in August was not easy for Rice.
After receiving therapy while recovering from a stroke, she suffered seizures and had neck and gallbladder surgeries, eye problems and cancer.
Rice still struggles with multiple ailments, but plans to attend the festival she considers one of the best.
“The people are so friendly and they want to help you,” said Rice of Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival organizers. “It has a hometown feel, and I live in the city, so it’s special. It’s like family there and there are so many good people. I love being a part of the show.
“It’s one of the best shows out there,” Rice added.
Moving to the Cambridge area in 1987, Rice did not immediately exhibit her work at the festival. But, it didn’t take long for him to join the list of award-winning exhibitors and artists.
In addition to winning numerous ribbons, Rice’s paintings and her career have been featured in the Ohio Watercolour Society magazine and in “The Spirit of Art The Splendor of Life – Artists Talents in Ohio” by the art professor. from Muskingum Yan Sun University and his wife, Hong Yin, assistant professor of art.
The 127-page book written about the artists and artistic communities of Ohio. Fifteen artists, including Rice, are featured in the book available for purchase at the Yan Sun Art Museum & Gallery in Zanesville.
Over the years, Rice has exhibited her work each year in four exhibitions, but the impact of stroke has limited her to one exhibition.
Today, she only exhibits her paintings at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.
She congratulates those associated with the festival and her exhibiting neighbors for helping her get organized for the festival.
“I can’t do it anymore,” said. “But, all the people over there have been so good to me. People have gotten to know me and they are coming to find me.
Rice has overcome many adversities to become one of the longest-serving exhibitors at the festival which is scheduled for August 13-15 this year and she knows it is the work of her Lord and Savior.
“Never give up, never give up,” Rice said. “God is always with you, and he will heal you.”
The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival is a jury festival that showcases high-quality works of art in a variety of mediums such as painting, pottery, ceramics, fiber art, metalwork, jewelry, acrylic, mixed media, photography, etc.
About 100 artists come from all over the United States for the three-day event and students from the area have the opportunity to exhibit their work.
Featured events at the 2021 Salt Fork Arts and Crafts Festival include artwork by sworn artists and craftspeople, a market tent with Ohio-made goods, exhibits on the Appalachian heritage, arts and crafts classes for adults and children, student art tent exhibits, public choice judgments and delicious food and refreshments.
The festival in Cambridge City Park is open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Here’s a look at this year’s schedule of events:
Friday August 13
- 12 noon, opening of the festival.
- 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., Buckeye Trail Marching Band.
- 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., String Sounds from John Glenn High School.
- 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ladies of Longford.
- 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Les Amours.
- 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., CHS Alumni Jazz Band
Saturday August 14
- 10 am, opening of the festival.
- 10:30 am to 11:15 am, Choir Chordial.
- 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Kevin Praeter Band.
- 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Craft lessons.
- 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., Danse Express.
- 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Frozen Jr.
- 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds.
Sunday August 15th
- 10 am, opening of the festival.
- 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., Festival Choir.
- 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Cambridge City Band.
The festival is sponsored by the Ohio Arts & Crafts Foundation.
Call 740-630-8935 or visit saltforkfestival.org for more information.