Sunday, September 6, 2009

Art & Crafts

Every year just before Labour Day weekend purple hands start showing up on the sidewalks of downtown Fredericton. Along with the FREX, the arrival of the university studenta and the change in the air, the New Brunswick Crafts Council's Fine Craft Festival is a sure sign that summer is drawing to a close.

The New Brunswick Crafts Council is the oldest council of its type in Canada. The Council organizes a number of events throughout the year mostly centred on their gallery space at Charlotte Street Arts Centre. But the highlight of the year is the first weekend in September when dozens of New Brunswick and Maritime crafts people and artisans descend on Officer's Square.

This weekend the sun was shining and the air was clear and warm. It was a great chance to enjoy a final summer weekend and admire the creativity of local craftspeople...

At the Festival I had the chance to stop and chat with my friend Shanie Stozek who is as lovely and charming as the pottery she creates. Mom, if you're reading this, I would not object to finding that blue-grey vase under the Christmas tree. Also on my wish list? One of her wonderful coffee mugs with bright patches of colour and cheerful sayings ("Dear Coffee, I like you.") AND they feel great when you hold them - a MUST for a favourite mug!

The Craft Festival may mean the end of summer, but have no fear, art-lovers, the fall gallery season is just getting underway. For me, the official kick-off was the Friday night opening at Ingrid Mueller Art + Concepts of two new shows: Stephen Williams' "Family Album" and Andrew Ross' wood-turned bowls and sculptures.

Ingrid has an impeccable eye and with her husband Peter's help, her shows are always terrific. If you're just starting to collect, this is the gallery for you. Ingrid represents well-known artists like Glen Priestley, Suzanne Hill and Phillip Iverson but her special talent is identifying emerging artists. She not only has a knack for spotting great potential, she's passionate about nurturing it.

She has the same enthusiasm for helping collectors connect with the right artist. When she says, "I have an artist you have to see", you can be confident she's right. But she'll never rush you. She won't let you a buy a piece unless she knows you love it. When I finally took the plunge on my first piece earlier this year, it was a coming-of-age moment.

Now I've been bitten by the bug and I've been eyeing Stephen Williams' work for most of the summer. Knowing that his pieces would be flying off the walls, Denis and I popped into the gallery during Thursday night's Culture Crawl for a sneak peek at the show.

Am I glad we did! There it was. A new little piece I hadn't seen before. Playful in colour and whimsical in subject matter; I had to have it! Love putting those little red dots on the tags.

When I went back for the opening Ingrid had already taken it down and wrapped it for me. "People kept asking about it. I was getting tired of telling them it was sold," she laughed. I could take that as a comment on my good taste but I suspect it's more of an indication that Ingrid has spotted another great artistic talent.

So the gallery season is underway with openings and artist talks nearly every week this month. September is the most wonderful time of the year!

Oh, and for those of you who love the Impressionists, there's a biggie coming up mid-month when the Beaverbrook plays hosts to the Impressionist Works from the National Gallery of Canada. Stay tuned...

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