Laura C. Lyons: A Natural Inspiration

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When you come to number 27 on your Shoreline ArtsTrail map, you may wonder why you’re visiting a farm. Wildwood Farm in Madison is the home and studio of fiber artist Laura Lyons, whose art and inspiration come from the farm’s main inhabitants — her sheep.

“I bought this property in 1974,” she explains. “Slowly over the years my husband and I built housing and a large barn, garage, and studio complex. We also picked up a variety of animals and started a flower farm. Ten years ago, we added the sheep.”

The sheep provide Laura with a massive amount of wool. “I have always loved to make things,” she says. “Over the years, I’ve worked with metal, woods, fiber, glass, and ferro cement. Using my own wool was a natural addition to the mix.”

“I’ve learned to skirt, wash, pick, card, spin, dye, weave, and needle-felt the wool to create wall hangings, carpetbags, and assorted animals.” More recently, she’s taken up weaving Celtic jackets on a tri-loom.

Laura’s quick to tell you she’s in love with wool. “It’s an incredible material with limitless sculptural potential! It can be combined with other materials, including glass, wood, and copper.”

“This art form makes me feel connected to ancient techniques and a very basic, low-tech way of life. The calm, gentle, and productive nature of the sheep is my perfect inspiration.”

Laura’s studio at Wildwood Farm has expanded to include a number of creative events including yarn spinning, crocheting, dying, and felting. She recently hosted a Shamanic Painting workshop by ArtsTrail member Catherine Steinberg, as well as meetings of local quilters led by ArtsTrail member Diane Wright. Dayna Mankowski, SAT’s Publicity Co-Chair, organizes most of the fiber events on the farm.

Laura and all of her efforts at Wildwood Farm were recently featured in an article by Spin Artiste. Check it out here.

You can more of Laura’s work online at her Etsy shop, but be sure to find your way to Wildwood Farm during the Shoreline ArtsTrail Open Studios Weekend, November 22-23, 2014. This year, she’s sharing space with Alice Chittenden, Susan Gillie, and Diane Wright.

For more information, visit www.shorelineartstrail.com.

Click here to read more Shoreline Arts Trail member artist profiles.

- by Jen Payne, Words by Jen

Shoreline ArtsTrail Preview Exhibit at Wall Street Gallery, Madison

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Join the Shoreline ArtsTrail for the Opening Reception of the Shoreline ArtsTrail Preview Exhibit at Wall Street Gallery, 91 Wall Street, in Madison on Friday, November 7 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. The show will run from November 4 – November 24, and features Shoreline ArtsTrail member artists Hannah Baldwin, Alice Chittenden, Anne Coffey, David Frank, Anita Griffith, Owen Sea Luckey, Dayna Mankowski, Jane Novick, Bob Parrott, Steve Plaziak, Pat Rist, Marj Sopkin, and Sandra Spahr. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Shoreline ArtsTrail’s Open Studios Weekend is presented in collaboration with Guilford Art Center, and supported by local sponsors including Branford’s HOME, Luckey REDO, Tommy Sullivans, and Words by Jen; Guilford’s Mix Design Store; and Madison’s Friends & Company, Tidewater Inn, and Wall Street Gallery. Enhancing the weekend’s experience are local Lodge and Dine Partners offering special deals for ArtsTrail visitors, which can be found on the ArtsTrail website.

During Open Studios Weekend, the colorful “Open Studio” signs point you to artists and studios in Branford, Guilford, and Madison. For specific locations and more information about events, discount offers and participating artists, pick up a copy of the Shoreline ArtsTrail map, available in libraries, town halls, Connecticut welcome centers, and visitors’ centers, as well as at the Guilford Art Center and the various studios. Contact Martha Link Walsh at (203) 481-3505 or visit www.shorelineartstrail.com.

Sharon Hosley: The Perfect Pot

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You will recognize Sharon Hosley’s pottery right away if you are at all familiar with the fanciful creatures who dance and pose and pivot atop her colorful creations! You can visit with them up close at her studio, The Potere, in Branford, number 4 on your Shoreline ArtsTrail map.

Often referred to as the “Rabbit Pot Lady,” Sharon hand-sculpts animals like jackrabbits, frogs, bears, dragonflies, bees, and geckos for the lids of pots, as handles or decorations. “They each have their own personality,” she says.

Sharon is an award-winning potter with more than 25 years of experience. “After many years of creating functional pottery,” she says, “I developed an interest in design, color and sculpture.”

Sharon uses terra-cotta clay to make her signature jars and other pieces, and then decorates them with brightly colored images including animals, insects and vegetation.

“With the medley of vivid colors, I want to attract the viewer and evoke positive emotions,” she explains.

It’s hard not to be attracted and inspired by her one-of-a-kind pottery. In addition to the whimsical creatures and bright colors, Sharon’s pottery springs to life with raised designs called scrafitto, and sculpted accents like lids, handles and feet.

“The challenge of this media is fun and rewarding for me,” she says. “The shape of the pot, the placement and combination of those colors, plus the designs all have to work together. When your vision comes through your work, then you have the perfect pot. The challenge is trying to get that vision to come through.”

Sharon is a founding member of the Shoreline ArtsTrail, which is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year, thanks to the solid foundation she helped for us.

See how her vision is taking shape now when you stop by Sharon’s studio during Open Studios Weekend, November 22-23, 2014, where you can also see the work of potter David Frank. For more information, visit www.shorelineartstrail.com.

Click here to read more Shoreline Arts Trail member artist profiles.

- by Jen Payne, Words by Jen

Stuart Alan Lerner: Where Found Objects Go to Be Seen

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Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? If you’re in the studio of metal sculptor Stuart Alan Lerner, you’re probably not imagining anything. Peering from the seemingly random collection of metal objects—old car parts, kitchen utensils, industrial remnants—are hundreds of faces. See for yourself—no pun intended—during Open Studios Weekend. Stuart’s studio is number 30 on your Shoreline ArtsTrail map, in Madison.

Stuart’s fascination with metal sculptures began in 1978, when he walked into the maintenance department of his textile processing plant and saw two pieces of metal sitting on a work table that looked like shoes. He found two pieces of pipe that he stuck into the screw holes on top of the “shoes” and suddenly he had legs! He completed the little robot in about a week, not knowing this would be the start of a 35-year creative passion.

Stuart scours antique shows, scrap metal yards, town dumps, barns and tag sales to find the unusual metal pieces and everyday metallic items he uses in his whimsical sculptures and flower vases. Familiar pieces you see in practical places are suddenly transformed into a hat on a woman’s head, the gaze of a Blues musician, the smile on a monkey.

Stuart has perfected his craft with degrees from several technical schools, but the sense of humor you’ll find in his work is not something that can be taught—and is definitely something you should experience!

For a glimpse, visit his website, www.lernergallery.com, and then add his studio to your Must See list during Open Studios Weekend, November 22-23, 2014. For more information, visit www.shorelineartstrail.com.

Click here to read more Shoreline Arts Trail member artist profiles.

- by Jen Payne, Words by Jen

Owen Sea Luckey: Re-Imagine the Possibilities

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To simply call Owen Sea Luckey, number 2 on your Shoreline ArtsTrail map, a “textile artist” is a funny understatement. She’ll tell you herself, “I’m an artist, mother, fabric designer, knitter, seamstress, freelance decorator, fabric junky, color collector and pattern/texture crazy.”

It’s that eclectic mix of interests and skills (and quirky elegance) that weave together to become the story of Luckey RE-DO, a whimsical line of re-imagined Womens sweaters and Tops. Working from a collection of recycled garments, Owen transforms the familiar into creative pieces of wearable art combining traditional craft techniques—knitting, felting, sewing, embroidery and collage. To see her in action check out her video on luckeyredo.com.

Each one-of-a-kind garment, enjoys unique embellishments: antique buttons & lace bits, accents of pattern, bursts of colorful, repurposed fabrics, hand-knit tendrilled collars,cuffs and drop-stitch lace.

If there is a whisper of familiar in the Luckey RE-DO line of garments, then perhaps you have been privy to Owen’s hand-knit originals which include hats, fingerless gloves, mittens, scarves, shawls and decorative collars. She works primarily with a Japanese, hand-dyed wool-silk-angora blended yarn, but also incorporates angora, mohair and cashmere.

The practical function of these pieces combined with their luxurious textures, unexpected colors and imaginative designs creates an air of artistic levity that is a signature of Owen’s work. To see for yourself, visit her website www.owensealuckey.com.

There is as much playful movement and bold statement in her creations as there is in her career that began with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has included work as a corporate textile artist, an interior design consultant, a designer of custom, home textiles on the world market, and as an innovative artist creating an array of redesigned and hand-knit wearables.

In addition to participating as an artist on the Shoreline ArtsTrail, Luckey RE-DO is also a sponsor of the 2014 Open Studios Weekend.

Owen is once again sharing space with Kristin Merrill, and they are hosting Hannah Baldwins paintings this year, as well. Be sure to stop by the Luckey and Merrill Studio during Open Studios Weekend, November 22-23, 2014. For more information, visit www.shorelineartstrail.com.

Click here to read more Shoreline Arts Trail member artist profiles.

- by Jen Payne, Words by Jen

Dayna Mankowski: The Science of a Crafty Life

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Fiber artist Dayna Mankowski is known as the “Crafty Scientist” because she commingles her days as both a pharmacist and a crafter. Find out the results of this experiment when you visit her studio, Madison Wool, number 29 on your Shoreline ArtsTrail map.

Dayna has been spinning yarn since 2006. In 2011, she purchased Madison Wool, where she sells an eclectic selection of yarn, fiber, spinning wheels, and books and notions. More recently, she has expanded the shop to include felting, weaving, and spinning, as well as lots of knitting and classes!

At the root of the success of Madison Wool is Dayna’s enthusiasm for creating all things fiber. “I believe in the power of color” she says, “and that knitting and spinning should be fun!”

Using humanely sourced wool, mohair, and silks, Dayna hand-dyes and cards them into one-of-a-kind Laboratory Batts. “Then, the sky is the limit,“ she explains. “I’ll add other materials like soy silk, corn fiber, and even tinsel and sewing scraps.” Her line of Art Yarns by a Scientist are spun thick-and-thin, and contain fun elements like sea shells, beads, and even felted items.

Perhaps Dayna looks familiar? You may have seen her on the DIY Network’s Uncommon Threads, demonstrating needle felting and sewing alternative materials. In addition, she has toured the country doing indie craft shows and local farmer’s markets with her creations.

Find out more about Dayna and Madison Wool online at www.madisonwool.com, or stop in for a visit during Shoreline ArtsTrail Open Studios Weekend, November 22-23, 2014.

For more information, visit www.shorelineartstrail.com or click here to read more Shoreline Arts Trail member artist profiles.

by Jen Payne, Words by Jen

Molly McDonald: Meditations in the Broad Brush Strokes of Art

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The effervescence of colors that punctuates the canvases of Molly McDonald will stay with you long after you visit her Branford studio. It’s number 7 on your Shoreline ArtsTrail map.

Molly’s work simplifies nature and puts the memory of a moment on canvas with striking color and articulate brush strokes. But she explains it best. “Painting is a direct, vital experience for me; it comes from the blood or the breath.”

“There is a conversation that happens,” she explains. “A conversation with the canvas, the oil, the modulated line, the hard and soft edges, and ultimately myself. It becomes my meditation.”

Her work shows an affinity with abstract expressionism, but grounded in her observations of nature and her consciousness as a woman.

“A structure begins with my response or remembrance of the sea, the light of the sun, or the birth of my child. Then at a certain point, the color of the paint itself leads me.”

And it leads her well. Molly has exhibited in countless exhibitions in Connecticut, and is a member of Connecticut Women Artists, the National Association of Women Artists, Shoreline Alliance for the Arts, New Haven Arts Council, the Madison Art League, and the Guilford Art League, to name just a few.

You can check out Molly’s work online at her website, but you really must stop by her studio during the Shoreline ArtsTrail Open Studios Weekend, November 22-23, 2014. For more information, visit www.shorelineartstrail.com.

Click here to read more Shoreline Arts Trail member artist profiles.

by Jen Payne, Words by Jen