Saturday, July 02, 2011

Brainerd's Arts In The Park

I stopped by Arts In The Park today, an annual event held in town, one that I had never been to. Some art shows can be hit or miss, with mass-produced goods or "hand assembled" items being prevalent.  The few I've been to in our area seem to be mostly of that type.  I find those shows really disappointing and honestly, this is what I expected today.   There were a couple of those booths in this show but largely it was a show full of talent and with 140 or so booths in the show, that's pretty impressive.

There was a lot to look at, but for me there were a few stand-outs that really made a big impression.  These are people I would watch for at the next show and make a bee-line for their booths.  I screwed up my courage enough to ask for a quick photo while admiring their work (sorry if I freaked anybody out, and thanks for being such good sports) and wanted to share them with you.

Naturally Unique had a collection of smooth beach stones worked into stacked lamp bases, little bud vases (loved these!), cabinet pulls, and much more.  They even had felted wool bags that closed with little stone buttons.  Perfect!  They were such nice people that they offered the kidlets a couple of stone magnets, which they thought were the greatest things ever.  I'll be watching for their work again next year, but they have a website too with photos of their work and their show schedule, and an Etsy shop too, so go have a peek.  

When we first moved to Minnesota I stopped by a craft show in town, and though it was a large show, it was short on the type of work I was hoping to find.  About halfway through the show I spotted Adama Sow's pottery and it was like a bright light in an otherwise dull room.  I walked away then with a small egg cooker that I still use.  I was really excited to spot his work at this show.  Check out the colors he's working with, aren't they fantastic?  Happiness captured in clay.

A quick look in this booth and I immediately recognized William Lange's work from Etsy.  He coaxes magic out of copper.  Check out that amazing pogoda fountain (that my boy couldn't get enough of), isn't it something?  I loved the little details on his pieces that you really have to see to believe.  (little spiders in copper webs...beautiful)  His bird houses that I had fallen in love with on Etsy were even more beautiful in person.  The craftsmanship and patina were really outstanding.  Check out William's Etsy shop here.

There were a number of potters at the event but the work of Phillip Schmidt really pulled me in.  His pieces were perfectly worked, not too fussy, not too plain.  It didn't feel as though he was making work with the intent of making things that people would buy, rather his work felt sincere (does that make sense?) and beautifully executed.  I loved that many of his pieces were taken out of round and given edges and a sort of perfect imperfection.  His glaze colors are simply stunning too.  I chatted with him for a few minutes and he was as delightful as his work.  If I had more money I would have cleaned him out.

Instead I left with just one gorgeous vessel for my freshly-picked chamomile.  Isn't it awesome?  Fits my hand (and aesthetic) perfectly.

Phillip has a website here, which you should definitely check out, and he also has a blog where you can read about his work and philosophy...and beer bread. (come on, how cool is that?!)  I'm a fan.

I also got to chat with a really engaging woman from Busby Bee Salve but walked away without snapping her photo, darn.  She makes a healing salve with ingredients right from the hive.  This is a woman who believes in her product and it shows.  She convinced me and I came home with a tube of salve in my pocket to replace the Burt's lip balm I had been using.  She also has a website and an online store here where you can get some too.

Though I didn't get to talk with him, Greg Rosenberg from Shining Light Studio was also exhibiting. His work is beyond stunning.  I really can't describe it without gushing.  Seriously.   When I first saw his work a few years ago he was in the middle of making a lamp using petrified wood in lieu of traditional stained glass as the shade; an approach that is both unexpected and really successful.  He sculpts the bases for his lamps himself and the details, oh my goodness the details.  Tiny brass acorns, crystals tucked into the roots of the tree bases, leaves and flowers, and ohhh...I'm gushing.  In addition to lamps he also makes furniture, doors, custom lights...amazing stuff all of it.
He has a site here where you can gush too. 

I am so glad I finally stopped by this show and I'm already looking forward to next year. 
You've got to love a day that just totally exceeds your expectations. 
Beautiful art, nice people, buying handmade. 


Tara said...

Wow, Lisa, now that is my kind of art and craft show. Like you, I have often been disappointed by what is able to pass as "hand crafted". The last show I did myself was a bit of a disappoint for the same reason -- about 50% of the vendors were representatives like Tupperware, Avon and such. I love the artists you have featured here, especially the pottery. Stunning work from all.

Karen Larko said...

Very nice Lisa! Punxsutawney is having their festival this week and I'm hoping there are some artists and crafters there. The past few years it's been avon and tupperware and such. Just not worth my time.

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Yeah, the tupperware and mass-produced charm jewelry booths are my pet peeve. I really can't express how happy I was that this show was not that way. I really had pretty low expectations for my town but I've gotta say, Minnesota made me proud yesterday.

Tumus said...

That must've been so refreshing! I've yet to be to one of those shows around here, but I think if I kept my ear to the radar I might find some better pickings towards Columbus. My mom and I are suckers for cool pottery as well. I still kick myself to this day for not being able to buy this gorgeous big stone blue bowl from an Irish crafter at the Dublin Irish Fest here in Ohio. And wouldn't you know it I haven't seen them back since.

I have to hope that people will continue to see the value in handmade so everyone can regress back to a time of value and a love for simple things.

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful fair indeed ! no such wonderful things over here, so many craftsmen(/women) have disappeared here :( And such amazing fairs are so hard to find now.
Great job on presenting us all these very nice people & what they do ! They must be grateful to you too, I'm sure ! You should be hired by some important organization for craftsmanship in Minnesota !

lynn bowes said...

Girl, it's about time that you participated in a show like this. I ain't kiddin'.

Margie Oomen said...

handmade is really the best made isn't it.
love those stones

Pesky Cat Designs said...

What a wonderful craft fair! So many talented artists. A perfect way to spend a day!

Pesky Cat Designs said...

I also want to wish you a great 4th of July Lisa! Enjoy. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these fantastic artists. Creative folks are everywhere if only we just look. xox Corrine

joanie said...

Looks like a wonderful way to spend the day. A perfect place fore a multi-talented craftsperson like yourself. Thanks for letting us take a peak. I adore the cup you bought. Jx


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