And it was a beautiful weekend to do just that in Blue Ridge.
I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Blue Ridge Arts in The Park Festival this past Memorial Day weekend. I hope some of you took me up on my offer to come frolic as well. I spent most of my time there on Sunday, and I got to meet so many unbelievably talented artists. I felt blessed just to be in their presence. Being an artist myself, I know the courage it takes to put yourself and your art out into an arena like that. It is an extremely vulnerable undertaking. I commend each and every person who had the courage to do what they did.
As I wandered around the park in downtown Blue Ridge, I lazily stopped in to booth after booth.
There were a few that really caught my eye. One of the first was Michael Lee's booth. The tag line on his business card says "Poetry of Motion Captured in Oil". That's all he had to say. I was transfixed. I was immediately drawn to his equestrian paintings, as I grew up with a "horse person", and have an ingrained appreciation for those majestic, magical creatures. You can find more of his art on his website.
I also ran into this character, Robert C. Perry. He's a folk artist, and his art is incredibly creative and eye-catching. Most of what he had displayed were wood carvings, some black and white, some bursting with color. All of them had a magnetic quality that drew me into his world. I hung around and talked to him for a bit, and I felt like I was a guest in his home. See more of his beautiful work here.
I am particularly fond of art that has a humorous side to it, and I was drawn in to Frank Gee's booth. Here's why:
Aren't those two of the greatest paintings you've ever seen? Please take the time to check out his website. His paintings of birds cracked me up, and I learned things about gorillas I had never known. Also, any of his paintings with "breast" in the title... well, I'll let you see for yourself.
The next booth I walked by had this proudly displayed outside:
I was a goner. For some reason, anything made out of chains or barbed wire is just...cool. I also have a disturbing fascination with snakes. My mom, who joined me this weekend, was quick to point out the symbolism of the apple, which was placed in front of the snake. This may be the source of some future therapy... I'll keep you posted. Tom Shumaker, the proud artist of this unique booth, aptly named "Barbed Creation", was a very kind soul for someone who works with barbed wire. He offered to answer any questions we had, the first of which was "How many scars do you have?" He quickly showed me both arms and hands, scar free. I was duly impressed. So impressed, actually, that I will be interviewing him for a piece on my own blog, where I highlight one artist, once a month. It should be a very interesting interview! Here is another of Tom's fine creations:
I strolled by this motley crew as they were testing their mics for what I'm sure was an amazing set of folk music and fun in front of the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association. If you haven't already, check out the history of this beautiful building here. Better yet, mosey on up to Blue Ridge, and check it out yourself. It's worth a trip on it's own, not to mention the rest of the town.
Another booth where I felt drawn to dawdle was Pam Nelson Smith's booth. What first caught my eye was an oil painting of a young ballerina. I am a sucker for pictures of ballerinas, as I was one myself years ago. They are so graceful and poised, and when an artist is able to catch this on film or canvas, I'm sold. Her paintings ranged from children running and playing, women on horse back, and portraits of famous people, namely Johnny Depp. (Okay fine, this was really what caused me to stick around.) I spent some time talking to Pam, and found her to be very open and genuine, two qualities I really admire in a person. Please take the time to check out her website. Her art will help you breathe easier. Good art will do that to ya.
My last stop before the sun did me in was at Bebo Folk Art. His colorful signs and spectacular wood carvings of snakes, butterflies and other "critters" are indicative of the joy that radiates from Bebo. I spent a good amount of time talking to Bebo about his work, and he has graciously agreed to let me use the pictures I took of some of his paintings on one of my personal social media sites. He is a man filled with joy and enthusiasm for life, and this shows through his art.
So, I reluctantly parted ways with Bebo, and headed back to the car to meet my mom and our dog, who had long ago retreated to the A/C. I am so grateful that I was able to spend time among the incredibly talented and creative people I met this weekend. I was humbled by the experience, and inspired to be the best artist I can be. Thanks to the Blue Ridge Arts Center for making this a possibility for all of us, and also to the town of Blue Ridge for welcoming us so graciously.
All pictures used with permission of the artists.