Congratulations to the Winners and Finalists of Paradise City’s

Second Round of Collectors Recognition Awards!

Congratulations to the Winners and Finalists of Paradise City’s Collectors Recognition Awards! Thousands of you, our patrons, participated in this competition. Voters recognized artists and makers for their achievements in each media category – Art and Sculpture; Furniture and Home Furnishings; Fashion and Jewelry. The votes were remarkably close, and we thank everyone for their participation.

The First Prize Winners are: Alexandra Geller, Whitmore Boogaerts, and Rona Fisher

The Finalists are: Nancy Marland, James Kitchen, and Ed Branson

In addition, we would like to give honorable mention to a handful of artists who came quite close: painter Luis Perez, weaver Lorraine Celata, digital collage artist Joanne DeLomba, painter Deb Ondo, mixed media artist John Peralta, jeweler Patty Daunis-Dunning and sculptor James Rosenthal.


WHITMORE BOOGAERTS, First Prize, Art and Sculpture

Whitmore Boogaerts made his professional debut as an artist at the very first Paradise City Arts Festival in 1995, one of a long lineage of artists and makers encouraged and mentored by Paradise City over the years. He has created mobiles, indoor and outdoor sculptures, furniture, staircases and wall pieces, combining balance and design with attention to detail through strong craftsmanship. These fluid and sophisticated pieces can be found throughout the United States and around the world.

With a background in civil engineering, Whitmore Boogaerts has enjoyed working with art consultants, architects, business owners and art collectors to design pieces which not only suit the environment but also add a new dimension. His has received commissions for a number of public spaces, including libraries, hospitals, restaurants, and corporate lobbies. Always thinking big, Whitmore delighted in creating a 64’ wall sculpture of a dragon weaving through the space and an 87′ wall sculpture of an underwater scene made of stainless steel. He says, “The goal of each piece is to let nature itself flow through the work.”


JAMES KITCHEN, Finalist, Art and Sculpture

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James Kitchen began welding metal sculptures more than twenty years ago. A bit of a Renaissance man, he has been an ‘artist’ his entire life – finding creative outlets in poetry, rock balancing, stone carving, oil painting, and as a multi-instrumentalist musician. In addition, he has always been fascinated by history and theoretical physics. His art allows him to bring these passions to life; through recycling history left behind as rusted metal, and with that, creating his artistic interpretation of scientific theories of space and time. All of the metal in his sculptures come from local farms, antique stores, auctions, and occasionally a neighbor who leaves a pile of interesting objects in Kitchen’s driveway. He allows nature to mature his sculptures into a rust patina and does little else to alter the metal. 

James has had considerable involvement in Western Massachusetts’ communities and their histories, and a number of his monumental sculptures are permanent fixtures in downtown Springfield. The connection between his work and the communities where they reside is palpable. As examples, James was commissioned to create a sundial for Forest Park, using objects referencing Springfield’s industrial and agricultural history. His piece A Lifetime was commissioned and unveiled in 2017 at The Sosin Center for Rehabilitation on the JGS Lifecare campus in Longmeadow; its intertwining and evolving circles are a comforting reflection for the elders at the center and their families.


ALEXANDRA GELLER, First Prize, Furniture and Home Furnishings

Alexandra Geller’s Master’s Thesis at Harvard was a catalogue of the ceramic arts of ancient cultures. As much as she loved the intricate imagery on Greek and Roman vessels, she found herself more fascinated by the classic shapes and forms of the pots and, ultimately, their functionality. She also looked at ancient Asian clay work and was inspired by how durable, practical and lightweight these pieces were. As she says, “Pivotal to my designs and throwing technique is making pieces light in weight and satisfying to hold.”

Alexandra’s one-of-a-kind thrown dinnerware and serving pieces are glazed in soft colors and textures that beg to be held and used. She developed glaze colors that, while not exactly neutral, are designed to be harmonious with food. Most of her customers own “mix and match” Geller pottery, dishes, cups, bowls and platters in a range of subtle hues that create a splendid table setting. Alexandra goes on to exclaim, “I am so, so thankful to all my loyal and wonderful collectors whom I have missed, and I look forward to seeing them at Paradise City. What an amazing and wonderful surprise to receive this awesome honor!  I want to extend a huge thank you to Linda and Geoffrey Post for creating this amazing opportunity and for their encouragement and welcome for all these years.”


ED BRANSON, Finalist, Furniture and Home Furnishings

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Ed Branson fell in love with glass in 1982, and it has stayed a constant presence in his life.  His glassblowing skills have been enhanced and explored with some of the world’s glass masters, but his artistry is built on day-to-day experience and practice in his studio.  This path has led to a deceptively simple artistic approach; trust the glass, have fun, accept mistakes, study nature and search for beautiful forms and colors inherent in glass’ personality. “I am not the master of this material; that is too egotistical; I don’t try to control hot glass, I try to understand and feel it,” Ed says.

Born in North Carolina, Ed found himself in living in New England and converting an 80-years-old apple barn into his spacious studio. A sculptor at heart, even his functional work – vases, bowls – are sinuous, sculptural and full of light. Much of his imagery comes from plants – calla lilies, ferns, fronds, pitcher plants – but there are also tidal bowls, fossils and water birds. Ed’s work is in public and private collections around the world, from Holyrood Palace in Scotland, to Jordanian Airlines, to the Westin Hotel in Reston, Virginia.



RONA FISHER, First Prize, Fashion and Jewelry

Rona Fisher’s collectors pushed her over the top in the Collectors Recognition Awards this time, elevating her from finalist to First Prize. Rona received a BFA in painting from University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia College of Art). She experimented with metalwork, but it was while living in Munich that she was inspired by German goldsmiths and their use of simple, dramatic forms and high standards of craftsmanship. You can see that influence in her distinctive jewelry crafted of sterling silver, gold, palladium, and bezel-set gemstones. She says, “I focus on inspiration and intuition first. I believe that technique is vastly important, but I also believe that technique without inspiration is empty. My intuition guides my technique.” 

Rona’s studio/showroom resides within the Kensington Arts District of Philadelphia, and she genuinely enjoys the buzz of an urban setting. Yet her jewelry design is influenced most by nature. Motifs reminiscent of riverbeds, flowing water, and pebbles all make their way into her designs. Inspired by the energy of water and classical a-symmetry, Rona’s work contains both movement and balance.


NANCY MARLAND, Finalist, Fashion and Jewelry

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Jeweler Nancy Marland is making her in-person Paradise City debut at both the Northampton and Marlborough shows this fall. At the heart of Nancy’s work is a playful contrast between precious metal and polymer clay—the shiny, reflective quality of silver against the colorful, patterned, matte polymer. The contrast is based on a desire to expose what’s under the surface, a concept in her Groove collection, to working with spontaneity (polymer) within a solid underlying structure (silver). 

​Nancy’s work has evolved from decades of experience working as a visual artist within a variety of disciplines (ceramics, painting, quilting, fine woodworking, and graphic design). She has a BFA from The Art Institute of Boston. Nancy found her way to jewelry design six years ago after having spent more than 30 years as a self-employed graphic designer. The process of design combined with the intimacy of personal adornment has informed the passion she feels designing jewelry: “I look for the structure underlying the pattern—whether it’s in what I’m seeing in nature or in the music I’m listening to. On the other hand, I absolutely love improvisation! That’s what I’m trying to express in my work—creating a structure that gives way to expressive and spontaneous improvisation.”