Friday, March 18, 2011

the thrill of discovery...

Ah yes--another warm beautiful early spring day. My legs were still more than a little weary from my adventures at Tower Hill yesterday but still I knew I had to get to  the Paradise City Arts Festival early. Check out my booth--pillows need a bit of straightening. Turn on the lights but not bad if I do say so.

Then I got to wander the show a bit. What a treat--the thrill of discovering artists I had not seen before. Seeing new pieces friends had created over the winter.  This is one of the many reasons I love doing craft shows. This search for work that makes me stop and go "wow". What will I find?

It didn't take me long to stop at the booth of Tarja Cockell--a fiber and mixed media artist who maintains a studio in Lowell. Yes, these were original. I had seen her work last fall but now she has a whole new series of wonderful abstracts. OK--I need to know more.  It turns out she was born in Finland where she studied weaving. Later she took this skill and used it in combination with painting and stitching in layers to produce the most haunting and elusive work that shimmers with depth and texture. Her work is about colors and shapes--changes and angles.

She warned me they were hard to capture on camera--in person the many layers interact with even more depth and movement--but still I find them spectacular.

If you look closely at this piece you will see in the lower left hand corner a zig zag movement that was actually made with stitches on the bottom layer. So much to see here. She tried to explain to me how she did it, not sure if I "got it" but I am sure that the techniques don't matter. It is the effect.

What do you think? Aren't they spectacular?  Her web site is Her studio is in Lowell and is open once a month on a regular basis. I wanted to ask her more--to linger and learn about her work but I also wanted to see the show.

My next stop was at  my friends Johnny and Kathy Robinson--rug hookers from West Virginia. I have known them for many years but always there is something new. This time they have been doing lots of exploration of space and depth using their wonderful color sense.  This was one of the newer rugs. Yes, it really is flat but I love how they make the shapes pop.

Another favorite is this new rug. From a distance the colors seem to roll together. Simple and complex  at the same time. Isn't it amazing?

Their website is Some of their work is more pictorial and most can be ordered in whatever size works for you.

My final stop was at the booth of Robert Alan Hyde. I confess I had never seen his work before--which surprised me. He is a metal sculptor from Washington, MA. Just look at the detail that he achieves. This piece is about 2 by 3 feet.

 Up close you can see the geese flying overhead.

And look at the contrast in the pond, grasses and tree trunks at the bottom of the work.

He also does animals. I loved this little wolf--it was only slightly larger than the size of my hand but look at the detail and motion.

There were larger pieces--sculptures of people and animals.  Oh so much to see and study. Such great movement in the design. Definitely worth seeing in person. For more information his website is

Alas though it was time for the show to start but as I returned to my booth I thought of a conversation I had had with my friend Laura Baring-Gould. She noted that after doing a show she always felt more inspired by the wonderful work she had seen at the event. How true that is. So much to learn and absorb. I could spend the day just walking the show looking at this art and asking questions about it.

And you--what do you look for at a festival? What are some of the favorite things you have seen? Does it inspire you?


  1. Your booth looks marvelous!

    I met Tarja Cockell at a small show in Purchase, NY last year where here work was a definite highlight of the event for me. I loved her "Winter Birches" pieces.

    The rugs are incredible -- so many layers.

    And the metal sculpture -- awe-inspiring.

    I'm looking forward to attending CraftNewYork in a couple of weeks ( I recognize some people on the list of exhibitors that I didn't get a chance to visit at the ACC show, and a couple of people whose work I've seen before.

    What show are you doing next?
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  2. Thanks Elena. I am doing CraftBoston next week-end--trying to think of it as just one long craft show. Then I get a break until Guilford in July. I love that show. Have fun at CraftNewYork--I will be very interested to hear about it.