Artist Spotlight: Kimberlee Forney Art

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In the days leading up to Craftproducers Autumn Arts Festivals, we will be profiling a few of the participating Exhibitors.
If you are an Exhibitor and you would like to see your information here, email amanda@craftproducers.com.

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Kimberlee Forney finds her inspiration among the beautiful Vermont landscape, within music, animals, people, and her daily surroundings. Texture and color are used in her creations to not only convey mood but to also represent the surrounding energy. For Kimberlee, being an artist is more than just about creating art. It is also about using her artwork to help benefit the lives of others. She spends a portion of her time promoting awareness about the “silent epidemic” of TBI (traumatic brain injury) and child abuse in our society. Every year, another 2 million persons in America sustain a brain injury and little assistance is available.  Kimberlee is also concerned about the epidemic of generational child abuse and the need for swift and appropriate action by our social systems to protect the children and end the cycle.

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When people ask you what you “do”, how do you answer?
I create…paintings mainly.

What mediums do you work with?
Acrylic on canvas…wood.

How would you describe your subject matter?
Colorful animals and ambiguous figures embedded in a joyful and playful world of solid color or intricate backgrounds.

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What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Harmony. Peace. Laughter. Joy. Lightness. Love.

What do you want your work to accomplish?
Bring a smile to the viewers face and inspire others to create.

What are you most proud of?
Using my art to promote peace and well-being in real-world situations.

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How long have you been exhibiting at Arts Festivals?
My first show was probably 10 years ago…and within the past couple years I have been expanding my show schedule to many kinds of festivals in different areas.

How many shows do you do each year?
This year about 20…but next year, perhaps more…

How long have you exhibited with Craftproducers?
Not sure…maybe 5, 6 years.

What aspect of Festival life do you most enjoy?
A lot of it.. traveling to a new place…meeting people…sharing my work with people.

kimforney_grapes

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but have not?
Perhaps some sculpture…but I think stained glass could be interesting too…

Do you have a designated Studio? How does this space inspire or contribute to your creative process?
I do have a space but it is not open to the public.  I work out of a basement, so there is little natural light in the space…perhaps that is why my paintings tend to be bright.

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Find Kimberlee Forney online at www.kimforney.com and on facebook.
Meet the Artist and see her wonderful, inspiring work in person at the Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival, October 4-6 at the Practice Tee at Riley Rink in Manchester VT.

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Artist Spotlight: Eli Helman

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In the days leading up to Craftproducers Autumn Arts Festivals, we will be profiling a few of the participating Exhibitors in this space. If you are an Exhibitor and you would like to see your information here, email amanda@craftproducers.com.

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Eli Helman is a self-taught, outsider artist with an original style of pen & ink drawings he calls Maximalist. Combining an eclectic blend of nature, animal and musical themes with hints of surrealism and a cartoon-ish sense of humor, he weaves a highly detailed and intricate array of decorative and folk art inspired shapes, patterns and images to create a stunning visual experience that is both whimsical and thought provoking.

What mediums do you work with?
Pen & Ink drawing.

How would you describe your subject matter?
Eclectic subjects ranging from nature, landscapes, trees and animals to humanities, music and humor.

How long have you been exhibiting at Arts Festivals?
This is my 4th year exhibiting at art festivals.

How many shows do you do each year?
I do 25 to 30 shows each year.

How long have you exhibited with Craftproducers?
This is my second Craftproducers show.

What aspect of Festival life do you most enjoy?
I enjoy the traveling and meeting interesting people all over.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but have not?
I would love to learn more about 3D art — sculpture in particular.

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Eli Helman will be exhibiting at Craftproducers’ Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival, October 4-6.
Learn more about Eli and purchase his work online at www.elihelman.com and be sure to like his page on facebook!

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Sebastian Sweatman

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In the days leading up to Craftproducers Autumn Arts Festivals, we will be profiling a few of the participating Exhibitors in this space. If you are an Exhibitor and you would like to see your information here, email amanda@craftproducers.com.

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Sebastian Sweatman is a contemporary American painter who lives and works in Stowe, Vermont. He works with acrylic on canvas, paper and wood. Sebastian was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and paints in a self-taught, expressionist manner.

We asked Sebastian a few questions about his work…

When people ask you what you “do”, how do you answer?
I paint large canvases.

What mediums do you work with?
Acrylic paint on canvas, paper and wood.

How would you describe your subject matter? 
In the past I focused on figures and faces. 2013 marks a transition for me to mainly abstract subject matter.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?
My current paintings are about life. I try to use color, form and position to portray feelings, issues and relationships.

What do you want your work to accomplish?
I have always had difficulty expressing myself with words. I want my work to convey ideas that I would otherwise not be able to communicate.

What are you most proud of?
I feel like I am making good progress towards expressing interesting and important ideas in my art.

How long have you been exhibiting at Arts Festivals?
6 or 7 years.

How many shows do you do each year?
I am planning to do at least 2 Craft Fair type events per year.

How long have you exhibited with Craftproducers?
3 or 4 years.

What aspect of Festival life do you most enjoy?
As a painter I do not get enough feedback on my paintings. I am interested in any and all feedback.

Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
I don’t recall the exact ‘a-ha moment’. I feel like I have always been creating something, even if the result was not a physical thing.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but have not?
Large scale installations that don’t require energy, are interesting to look at and change based on some variable. I have some specific thoughts and would like to collaborate on a idea/project in the Burlington area.

Do you have a designated Studio? How does this space inspire or contribute to your creative process?
I have had a studio space of some sort for the past 10 years. I currently am painting in my garage. I do like the garage setup mainly because of the proximity to my family. But low ceilings are tricky with larger works and I am planning to build a painting barn nearby.

What is the best advice you ever received about how to be more creative?
Don’t give up on art.

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Sebastian Sweatman will be Exhibiting at the Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival in Manchester VT, October 4-6.
You can find his work online at www.sebastiansweatman.com or on his instagram feed.

 

Artists Gather in Southern Vermont

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MANCHESTER VT — For the 21st year, over 150 Artisans from around the country will gather for the Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival to be held October 4, 5, & 6 at the Practice Tee at Riley Rink. The original Hildene Craft Festival, this weekend event has an updated name and has changed location due to Hildene’s decision to return their grounds to agricultural purposes. The new Practice Tee at Riley Rink location promises easy access from Highway 7A, beautiful views of the Green Mountain foliage, and solid footing for Exhibitors and Festival visitors alike.

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The Festival is participating in American Craft Week, October 4-13, a nationwide celebration of American craft in all 50 states. “Craft embodies our national history and heritage” says Festival promoter Charley Dooley of Craftproducers. “By taking part in this celebration, Craftproducers is embracing the practice of purchasing high-quality, American made products while shopping locally.”

Festival-goers will enjoy an incredible variety of Fine Art and Craftwork for sale from jury-selected Exhibitors. Discover delightfully whimsical artwork from Vermont painter Kimberlee Forney (www.kimforney.com), contemporary earth-toned pottery and handwoven textiles from husband/wife team Art and Cynthia Baird (www.artbairdpottery.com), and unique inlaid wooden instruments from Dan Williams of the Woodrow String Instrument Company (www.thewoodrow.com), as well as jewelry, clothing, toys, and so much more. The popular Specialty Foods tent will feature many wonderful treats to take home – jams and jellies, chocolate, hot sauce, baked goods, cooking sauces, wines, and spirits.

All this and more: live music, comic juggling, Vermont craft beer on tap, food vendors selling hamburgers, sweet and savory crepes, tacos, wood-fire oven pizza… At the height of foliage season in beautiful Southern Vermont, this is a family-friendly weekend event not to be missed!

Bennington Plays Pivotal Role in Crafts History

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Late in the 1960’s, The Northeast Regional Assembly of the American Crafts Council moved its flagship enterprise, the Northeast Regional Craft Fair to Bennington.  Their initial show was held in Stowe, VT and was called “Confrontation.” Seemingly everything in the sixties was a confrontation: civil rights marches, peace parades, multiple murders of political leaders (two Kennedys, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King). This was the era women went braless and people openly smoked “grass” in the streets. There were revolutions worldwide, from Paris to New York City, Peking to Tokyo, the world was in a tumultuous uproar. The Beatles, The Stones, and Bob Dylan all crooned “the times are a changin” fueled by anti-Vietnam war fever and abundant LSD at universities.

Even the prim and proper American Craftsmen’s Council felt the reverberations; in 1969, they changed their name to “American Crafts Council” so as to provide a bigger umbrella. That same year, the Crafts Council moved their “Confrontation” to Bennington and called it a much more commercially viable “The Northeast Regional Craft Fair.” The venue was Mount Anthony High School. Inside the lobby and the gym, down the corridors, craft booths were arranged in rows. These were the “chosen few,” the elite craft designers, many of whom were teachers at universities and famous craft schools like Penland in North Carolina and the Rhode Island School of Design in Rhode Island. While their craftwork was cutting edge contemporary, these artisans were sartorially sedate.

Outside on the playing fields of the high school, the dress code was noticeably different. There were hundreds of craft exhibitors, all arranged loosely in rows, up and down the grassy field. Some had pop up tents and tepees, others built structures from wood, metal, cardboard, and plastic.  Meanwhile, many craft booths were set up on blankets, with wares strewn casually here and there. Many of the exhibitors played guitars, nursed babies, and sipped wine or beer. While the scene was representative of many public gatherings in the late sixties, the craftwork displayed and sold was of very high caliber, even in this outdoor crafts bazaar component of the Craft Fair.

As is the case to the present day, craft festivals were vital markets for the craftspeople. At this show, there was a Wholesale Day— a day when only buyers from shops and galleries were allowed entry. This was Thursday when the buyers ordered products for future delivery to their stores. (In the early years, many of the larger craft shows had a “wholesale day, only for buyers.” The first wholesale only craft shows began in the 1980’s and these events were limited to bona fide, documented owners and buyers representing businesses; the general public was not allowed.

Back then the real money was transacted Friday through Sunday when the crowds swelled to more than 5,000 on any given day. Craft sales were brisk. The traffic gridlocks were memorable as Mount Anthony High School was not designed to accommodate a large influx of automobiles. Getting onto and off Route 7 created major congestion, even at the traffic light at the four corners, patience was stretched. However, hotels and restaurants were jammed packed for the weekend and the show contributed mightily to the local economy.  This was the beginning of an era which lasted up to the naughts of the new millennium. 72,000,000 million baby boomers arrived, seemingly out of now where. They craved “cool” things. They went to craft shows to buy: decorative objects for their homes and offices, personal adornments like jewelry and clothing, functional crafts for the kitchen and dining, sculpture for the garden and patio, and unique gifts for friends and family. Their thirst for craftwork has diminished recently as the boomers hit 6o. They no longer needed “stuff” for their homes as they were now downsizing. Their replacements, Generation X, were only 17,000,000. So, suddenly there were 55,000,000 fewer shoppers. As the 70,000,000 million Gen Y mature, graduate from college, get jobs, and have families there will be a resurgence in retailing.  This augurs well for handmade craft work as this generation is predisposed to buying local foods and products.  When the ACC Northeast Craft Fair outgrew the Bennington location and left for the spacious Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY, many Vermont artisans felt there was a void to be filled. In 1973 four intrepid and visionary Vermonters formed an organization called “Craftproducers,” the very same organization that is bringing back the craft fair to Bennington in 2013. (The founders of Craftproducers were Riki Moss, potter; Bob Burnell, The Stone Soldier, potter; John McCloud, woodworker; and, Charley Dooley, candle maker. Ever since, Dooley has been producing art and craft festival for 40 years.)

So, 40 years later, the craft show has returned to Bennington:

The 35th Annual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, August 2, 3, & 4 at Camelot Village, a mile west of Town on Route 9. The show was initially held in Manchester at the recreation area before it moved to Hildene meadows in 1984. It was a huge success, especially in the 1990’s when Stratton held the men’s tennis tournaments and later the LPGA golf tournament. Today Hildene no longer wants to be an event venue, rather an agricultural tourist destination. Their decision led Craftproducers to seek a new home for the craft show.

The organizers of the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival are pleased with the enthusiastic welcome from the Bennington community. Current Craftproducers Owner, Tim Cianciola, says, “I am blown away by the friendly welcome and strong support from everyone in Bennington. I think we may be starting a new tradition.” The Vermont Arts Exchange, the Bennington Museum, the Bennington Chamber of Commerce, Hawkins House Craftsmarket, Bennington Potters, Better Bennington Corporation, Fiddlehead at Four Corners Gallery, and others are actively involved in planning for the Festival. Together with the Bennington Banner and these local groups, Craftproducers is coordinating a town wide Bennington Arts Weekend. Details will be published on the website www.craftrproducers.com about the individual activities of each arts participant. For example, the Bennington Museum will have a craft related installation in the Decorative Arts gallery. It will also stay open later on Friday as it is also “First Friday” in Bennington. For details about First Friday events, visit www.betterbennington.com.  The actual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will take place Friday through Sunday, August 2-4, at Camelot Village, the home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. The hours are Friday and Saturday 10-5 and on Sunday 10-4. 140 juried artists, artisans, and specialty food makers will present their handmade works. Many of the exhibitors will be housed under brilliantly white Camelot tents while others will line up under their own canopies.  Live music will be played all weekend in the food court. Localvore caterers will serve organic wood fired pizzas, lobster rolls, grass fed burgers, sausages, sweet and savory waffles and crepes, sesame noodles, dumplings, salads, crispy tofu, local ice cream, Green Mountain Coffee, and more. Vermont Craft Beers and summer wines will be served in the Wine and Beer Café Tent. There are lovely shade trees on the property to afford delightful summer al fresco lunching.

The Vermont Arts Exchange will have its Arts Bus at the site providing kids activities and Thomas the Train will be there to ferry the small children here and there. All in all, The Festival promises to be fun as well as “the” place to shop for contemporary craftwork. And, it is just a few steps down the road to the Bennington Museum; check www.benningtonmuseum.org for what’s happening that weekend. It’s well worth a visit after or before the craft show.

This article originally appeared in “This is Vermont: Guide to the Shires of Vermont”, Summer 2013 edition. PDF here.