Wednesday, July 13, 2011



We knew the crowds would be shoulder to shoulder, especially with a forecast of eighty degrees and no rain in sight. Our plan was to get there early, before the Art Fair on the Square was scheduled to start. I was going with my sister, Ebby. We had agreed on meeting at the studio a half hour before the official nine o’clock opening. The Square in Madison is a proper noun. It’s the four streets that define the Capitol grounds. In the fifties it was the commercial and political hub of the city. Then with the advent of the commercial mall and its parking appeal the commercial aspect of the Square seemed to drift into a sea of ‘out-of-business’ and ‘moved-to-the-mall’ signs. Then sometime in the not to distant past a resurgence in the energy and appeal of the Square has put a new face-lift on the inner city, not a Joan River’s lift but more a Susan Sarandon lift. a more natural lift with some of the fine lines left in for character.
For the first five minutes our goal of being able to see both sides of the street and its exhibitors seemed doable but shortly after that it was as if fair goers seemed to seep in from the nonexistent area between the exhibitor’s booths and into our path the way vultures are drawn to new road-kill. I’m sure we missed some spectacular art but here’s what we saw that even the herd of pushing beasts couldn’t prevent us from uncovering and ogling with desire.
I expected the fair to be local artists are at least Wisconsin based, but what I found was a net cast far beyond the forty-eighth state. 

Emerson Matabele was reeled in from New Orleans with images taken from around the world. Images rich in color and humanity.
Love, Devotion, Surrender
Amarapura, Myanmar (Burma)
Boy with Bagels
Kashi, China
God’s Quarter Acre
Orange Walk, Belize

Scott Amrhein of High Cliff Studio was one of two local artisans whose work blew me away. His luminescent vessels were diamonds in the rich July sunlight. Wrapped with metal bands and set on stone pedestals there was a regal dimension to these pieces that mesmerized like a magic jewel from a Harry Potter story.

The stark austerity of Cali Hobgood-Lemme’s hand-colored photographs fit in perfectly with our furniture design concept. The simplicity of a typewriter, a stack of linen shirts or a woman’s dress laid flat on a white background  and painted blue gave them irresistible power. It forced you to look at its details and appreciate the subtle nuances of their crafted beauty.

Mikel Robinson’s mixed media made my heart race three beats faster as I was swallowed up by his imagery evocative of an Edgar Allen Poe story. His art was all about presentation with his dark images standing proud of their burnt black frames with a hint of old decaying newsprint peeking between the cracks.

On the more whimsical side and created by another Wisconsin artist are Amy Arnolds peepwool people. They carry with them the handcrafted quality of Appalachian folk-art wedded with the portraiture of Irving Penn

The hope now is to persuade a few of these artists to allow us to show their work at Pleasant Living. 

Somehow I had lost my email notification of new posts on Design Sponge, one of my favorite blogs, but several days ago due to their new format I was able to get back on their list and now I get daily opportunities to see what’s new. I was delighted the first time the Design Sponge name came up in bold letters on my inbox. It was a wow moment when I clicked on it and opened the door to one of my favorite blogs, one of those blogs as a blogger you look up to and aspire to. As the image of that days post pixilated in, the experience turned into a double wow. The very first image of the first post was for their Sneak Peek segment. Amie Weitzman’s Connecticut Cottage. The segment led off with an image of her beautifully designed kitchen in black and white and cerused oak. There in the center was her exquisite dining table with its curved sloping base, rounded top with a double banded apron. Now not quit as finely detailed as the Florence table in our Shaver/Melahn line but a very adept stepsister. We’ll take it as flattery, and that’s a very fine compliment.

Amie Weitzman’s dining table manufactured by
CA Atelier
Shaver/Melahn Florence table in cerused oak as seen at the Kips Bay Designer Show House in 2006 

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