Twenty-two years ago, two artists had a vision – to create a world-class arts festival at the historic, but admittedly rustic, fairgrounds in Northampton. “When we first walked the Northampton Fairgrounds in 1994, puzzling over the pieces that would come to be known as the Paradise City Arts Festival, we took a giant leap of faith,” say Founding Directors Linda and Geoffrey Post. “We pictured the Arena, a cavernous horse barn, transformed into a venue to showcase museum quality master craft and fine art. We fretted over whether we could draw serious art and craft lovers from across the country to the small New England town of Northampton.”
The Paradise City Arts Festival has a vibrant soul that many similar exhibitions reach for but never attain. At Paradise City, jazz melodies float in the air, while the food soars beyond expectations. Most remarkable are the art pieces themselves… a unique visual arts institution.”Twenty years later, Paradise City Northampton fills four buildings, a permanently landscaped outdoor Sculpture Garden and Courtyard and a 12,000 square-foot Festival Dining Tent and Soundstage. Visitors arrive from all fifty states and five continents to immerse themselves in an exhilarating environment that features an unparalleled collection of the nation’s finest craft makers and independent artists. Upon awarding their events the #1 spot in 2008 in the annual “Top Ten Art Fairs and Festivals in America”, AmericanStyle Magazine declared Paradise City Arts Festivals “truly innovative…fresh and vibrant, with extraordinary quality.”
– Boston Magazine
Paradise City was founded in 1995 by Geoffrey and Linda Post, both practicing artists who spent twenty years on the show circuit themselves. “Making a living as a practicing artist is no easy thing,” Geoff explains, “being creative in your studio, coming up with a body of work that excites you, hoping that customers will respond, then packing it all up and bringing it to a show. But you’re still not done. You need to put on your marketing hat and connect with your customers and display your work in a way that people will respond to.” Their lives as artists lay the foundation for the guiding principles of Paradise City: respect artists in all ways possible, make shows easy, fun and profitable, and help artists reach an ever growing audience both at shows and beyond.
To this end, Paradise City has cultivated a loyal customer base of nearly a quarter of a million people. The company reaches them across many platforms. It produces a biannual magazine, the Paradise City Guide, with a subscription base of over seventy thousand avid art lovers. It created Art Buzz, a monthly e-newsletter that tells the behind-the-scenes stories of many Paradise City artists, giving fascinating insights into their lives, work habits, creative challenges and accomplishments. The website, paradisecityarts.com, is a living resource for comprehensive information about the shows and individual artists, and has become the go-to place for tens of thousands of shoppers looking for great ideas to fill their home or wardrobe.
And, of course, the shows! How could we have guessed twenty years ago that a single small idea could take on a life of its own and grow to encompass multiple markets and venues. Paradise City shows are revered for the sheer fun of discovery and have become a true community of artists and patrons, buyers and sellers alike, sharing the joy of creativity.
And it doesn’t end here. “Our passion for art, sculpture and craft collecting has exposed us to a world of interesting ideas, fascinating and talented people and extraordinary experiences,” Geoff and Linda say. “Our travels have taken us to galleries in big cities and out-of-the-way places, art museums, alternative spaces, sculpture parks and artists’ studios. We’re exhilarated by what we see, and inspired to achieve even more. It’s hard for us to imagine a world dominated by mass produced commodities. It’s about living an extraordinary life.” Fortunately, the world of Paradise City grows daily, filled with a community of like minded individuals.