‘Halloween Parade’ brings the feeling of New York Village tradition to life

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

As Halloween approaches, we hope you enjoy this print in our collection.


Sarah Sears (American, b. 1953)
Halloween Parade, 1987
From “New York” series
Etching and aquatint
21.5″h x 15.75″w
Bequest of Donald M. Gillett, Hagerstown, MD, 2018.2.17
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

In this atmospheric and energetic print, Sarah Sears represented a large crowd of people attending the famed New York Village Halloween Parade, the largest of its kind in the world. Through her evocative use of chiaroscuro (contrast between light and dark) and variation of shaded tones, Sears created a festive scene in which several costumed figures in the foreground have strayed from the pageant and cast long, eerie shadows on a street in Greenwich Village. A series of pieced sheets (in the form of ghosts) hover above the narrow procession of people and plays off the light emanating from the storefronts and streetlights. The artist provided the following insights about her New York prints:

In my own work, I love to convey a sense of mystery. The scenes of New York express my fascination with the City’s nightly transformation into a magical fortress of dark buildings and glowing streets… In some pieces, a meaning, or a story, may not be readily apparent,
but that does not bother me—such is the ambiguity of existence.

Interestingly, Halloween Parade was included in an exhibition held at the Associated American Artists in New York (1988), where the renowned actor, Vincent Price (1911‒1993), purchased an impression of the etching. The print’s enigmatic subject matter no doubt appealed to Price, who excelled at playing roles in horror films.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Sears received a Master of Arts at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, where she studied printmaking under engraver Evan Lindquist (b. 1936). In 1980, she went to New York City, originally planning to stay only three weeks but decided to settle there permanently. Sears received solo exhibitions at Associated American Artists, the National Arts Club, and the American Gallery. Since 2006, she has been a board member of the New York Society of Etchers. Her work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for the Graphic Arts, Portland Art Museum, Oregon.

To learn more about Sears’ work and career, click here: https://www.sarahsearsart.com/