Sunday, October 05, 2008

And speaking of art... part of our time off this week, my husband and I drove to Louisville, Ky to attend the St. James Court Art Fair, which is held annually around this time. This is one of the few indulgences that I budget for, since we haven't had a real vacation in I don't know how many years. Each year the fair is bigger and better. It is not exclusively for Hebraic Art, of course, but I have found every year that there are several Jewish artists attending with their wares. Louisville does have a larger Jewish community than where we live (we have only about 300 families and an undetermined number of unaffiliated persons).

We spent the entire day there Friday, and then left later in the afternoon to drive like crazy to get home before sunset - the boys had already been outfitted with cheese pizzas to pop in the oven and ice cream for dessert, so no worries there. Our boys (ages 13-21) have been dragged to these types of things so many times they claim they are entirely bored by them, I must confess - but don't you know they still want to see the brochures and cards we brought back, and asked about what we saw? I think when they get over being "teenagers" they'll once again enjoy going themselves, as they did when they were children, and as we obviously still do even to this day. (Of course, we used to always visit the hand-made toy booths and buy them each an inexpensive little something when they were younger, but that's just part of the fun, isn't it?) My own parents used to take my sister and I to an arts and crafts show every spring that I remember fondly. It was in a wooded natural park far out in the country somewhere, and I recall going up and down the paths and trails each year and looking into all the booths to see what was there, and to see if there was anything "new" from the last time. Many years later, when I first came to this area and heard about the St. James Arts Fair, my husband was happy to take me and we have gone every year since.

This year, I was looking for something in particular. As part of updating the kitchen over the summer, I also moved a large wardrobe out of the hall immediately adjacent (which stores several kitchen appliances) to the family room which is separated from the kitchen only by a countertop, making it easier to get the appliances and just put them on the counter instead of traveling through the hall with them. This provided a blank space which easily fit a narrow hall table, on which I put a few decorative items, and left a large empty section of wall above it. I was hoping to find something at the arts fair to fit in that space.

Unfortunately, the things I liked for it were way out of my budget. (Sigh.)

But still, we enjoyed the Arts Fair a great deal - and I wanted you to see some of the items we saw. One thing we did buy was a small piece for a spot in the dining room by artist Orna Amrani.

There is not a piece exactly like the one I bought shown on her gallery page, but it is somewhat similar to this piece below:

The difference in mine is that the small shield is decorated with the letters TZ-D-Q in gold with illustrated manuscript concerning "justice," and a small rolled scroll of the Shma beneath. I bought mine unframed since I have an odds and ends selection of frames at home and was pretty sure one would fit. I did, and it's already hanging on the wall in the dining room.

The other small piece I bought was a simple star of david in metalwork. It's slightly less than a foot in diameter and fits nicely right above the shofar on the hall table, making it about the same height at the top of the bowl and pitcher, and a little higher than the glazed wine cup and oil bottle we had acquired in years past. There is still nearly four feet above the hall table even with the little star of david for a nice piece of art of some sort, if I could just find one I liked and could afford.

One I saw and especially liked was by artist Jeff Dallas. It was beautiful, a tree done in tilework, a sort of cut mosaic, with a band of river rock below and framed with a deep red tile. Again, there doesn't seem to be a piece like it on the gallery page of his website, but there are some other nice works under his "collection of large works" page. Here's a similar sample:

Another cute thing we saw at the fair were "genie" style oil lamps done by Bill Mohl. These are actual oil burning lamps, and you can order them in a variety of colors and styles. Here's one:

I didn't buy one this Friday, but I'm thinking of ordering one over the web at a later time.

The final piece I'd like to tell you about I unfortunately either misplaced the card for it or I was so floored by the price I forgot to get one - it was an absolutely beautiful copper metalwork mosaic of the tree of life on a large leather canvas, and it cost $3900 dollars. (Cough-cough.)

Needless to say, getting it was not an option, but let me tell you I would certainly like to have had it.

So that was our treat for this holiday week. I encourage you to attend art and craft shows in your area, especially ones featuring local artists. There may also be art school shows you can attend, as well as "starving artist" galleries that feature local artists and crafts persons.

And of course, this wouldn't be my blog if I didn't urge you to start your own Arts Fair for your own community, showcasing the Jewish arts and crafts produced in your area. This is a great way to bring people who are willing to spend money into your community and to support your local businesses and local artists, and to introduce young persons in your community to the various arts and crafts they may one day enjoy.

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