Congratulations to the Winners and Finalists of Paradise City’s

2023 Collectors Recognition Awards!

Congratulations to the Winners and Finalists of Paradise City’s 2023 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: Ruth Odile, Erin Harris, and Ann Brauer.

The Finalists are: Lori Austill, Hetty Friedman, and Ken Salem.

In addition, we would like to give honorable mention to a handful of artists who came extremely close to winning: Harold Dumas, Erin Moran, Karen Caldwell, Keith Lewis, and Lorraine Celata!


Ruth Odile, "I Can Smell The Rain" 36" x 36" oil on linenRUTH ODILE, First Prize, Art and Sculpture

Ruth Odile has lived on Cape Cod for forty years. She is profoundly influenced by the watery landscapes that surround her. The salt marshes take on new colors with every season and time of day. She paints largely from her imagination, loose sketches, and memory.  She says, “Painting from memory keeps my style loose, and results in a painting that is about the feeling of the place rather than the location. Because I don’t paint a specific place, I’m inviting you, the viewer, to bring your own experience to the painted landscape.”

Ruth studied art education at SUNY Buffalo, but her creative career began in NYC as a display designer. After moving to Cape Cod she continued as a graphic designer, then launched her wearable art line – which continued for 35 years. After many years designing and painting clothing, she finally chose to return solely to her true love of oil painting on canvas. Ruth writes, “No matter where my career took me, I always made time for fine art. Now I pass my interpretation of the light and joy of a landscape directly to the viewer, to be immersed in the atmosphere of a special place they may recall.”

Her work has been included in solo and group shows at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and Cotuit Center for the Arts. Ruth’s paintings can be seen at Paradise City shows and in her own Cape Cod gallery: Gallery-Odile Fine Art in Harwich, Massachusetts.

Lori Austill, "A New Day". Encaustic painting, 36"x24".LORI AUSTILL, Finalist, Art and Sculpture

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Lori Austill is inspired by color, movement, and taking the time to listen and be connected to other human beings and our planet. For the last 27 years Lori has been self-employed as a painter. For 14 years she has been exploring the difficult medium of encaustic painting after many years of creating mixed media paintings on plaster. Encaustic is an ancient archival Egyptian technique using beeswax, pigment, and damar (a tree sap that hardens and raises the melting temperature of the wax). Painting with thin layers of hot colored wax is a challenging but worthwhile effort; she finds creative joy within its texture and depth. Lori’s gardens are filled with bees that make this magical wax! 

She explored ceramics, silversmithing and dance when she was young. Lori was a potter’s apprentice and took drawing classes at the New School and Parsons School of Design. She fell in love with painting and sculpture at the Portland School of Art in Maine. Lori received a junior year fellowship for an international summer program at Yale. She now lives in Portland with her husband, jazz guitarist Tony Gaboury. Her stepdaughter is a classical violist and music professor. Her household is filled with the magic of music and dance, a love of art and nature, and that’s what inspires her.

Lori says, “I hope that some of that magic seeps into my work and into the lives of those that see it. Art saves lives. I am deeply grateful for an environment where sensitivity is seen as an attribute.”

ERIN HARRIS, First Prize, Fashion and Jewelry

Erin Harris calls herself a “sentimental metalsmith”. Her business, Elm Harris, presents jewelry inspired by nature and nostalgia, memories in metal. Her work features both literal sentiment via the words and phrases she etches into blooming flowers and hinged butterflies, as well as the more intangible emotions evoked in personalized lockets and memorial reliquary.  Says Erin, “I’m inspired by both nature and nostalgia, by love and by loss. I work in metal, taking something cold and hard and imbuing it with warmth and heart.”

Although she holds a master’s degree in social work, for more than a decade Erin’s work has been a different kind of creative social work, oriented around connecting with others and creating customized, personal, one-of-a-kind jewelry to honor life’s milestones and memories. She has worked with renowned metal clay artist Celie Fago, and with metalsmith Richard Salley. Her jewelry-making journey actually began with the loss of a wonderful dog, as she looked for ways to remember him and process her grief. Designing a piece of jewelry helped her feel a physical connection to his memory, and she’s been helping others make similar journeys ever since. She writes, “I cherish the personal connections I make with people when I create jewelry just for them.”

Hetty Friedman, handwoven Mobius Shawl.HETTY FRIEDMAN, Finalist, Fashion and Jewelry

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Hetty Friedman says, “I always loved math and art, but could never draw very well. At age 13, I took a weaving class at summer camp. It was like a miracle! You put gorgeous colored yarns on the loom and pull off a piece of fabric. I am continuously in awe of the process.”

Hetty weaves her cloth on a 4 harness LeClerc jack type loom and an 8 harness Baby Wolf Schacht loom. She is always amazed by the surprises that emerge from combining different types of yarn, colors, and textures into one warp. The simplicity of the grid combined with the limitlessness of the textures and hues are her inspiration.

She weaves mainly with bamboo, rayon and Tencel. These fibers create a fabric that has a wonderful “hand”, great drape, and resiliency. You can roll up a scarf or shawl into a suitcase, open it up and it will be perfect. Her painted warps result in one-of-a-kind pieces with an infinite number of colors. If she were a fine artist, she would say, “The warp threads are my canvas!”

Hetty is a longstanding board member of the Weavers’ Guild of Boston- the oldest weavers guild in the USA. Hetty Friedman Designs is mission driven business. A portion of all sales goes to organizations that support women and girls in the domestic USA and in Guatemala.

ANN BRAUER, First Prize, Furniture and Home Furnishings

Ann Brauer, "Eventide". Art Quilt

When Ann Brauer was born in the Prairie Midwest, her grandmother made a postage stamp quilt from feed sack cloth. She slept under it for years, always finding some new design or pattern she had included. Ann says, “My grandmother’s quilt is one of my inspirations, as I use many fabrics only once or twice in each quilt. If you look closely you will find that the fabrics themselves often tell small stories.” From the start she used a spontaneous and intuitive quilt-as-you-go method. “Eventually I began thinking of my quilts as paintings of the Midwest where I grew up, the hills around western Massachusetts where I live and many landscapes of my imagination.”

Ann’s work is in the Museum of Craft + Design in NYC, the Lodge at Verona, NY and the Federal District Court House in Springfield, MA. She has shown at Quilt National as well as quilt museums and medical care facilities throughout the country. She received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a Finalist for the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. She does all the work by herself in her beautiful studio on the river in Shelburne Falls, MA. She has been supporting herself making art quilts for over 40 years and has participated in a Paradise City show every year since 1996.

KEN SALEM, Finalist, Furniture and Home Furnishings

Master Woodworker Ken Salem represents a principled, progressive design aesthetic. By using breakthrough techniques in resin, Ken creates a way to magnify mother nature’s natural beauty and create functional pieces out of what might normally be dismissed as unusable. Adding resin to live edge designs expands the viewer’s understanding of a tree and invites the viewer to look in to the magical nature of a tree’s structure.

Round Resin Table, Hardwood Burl and Resin.

Ken also builds a line of more traditional designs paying close attention to the figure and energy of the wood while using high-end traditional joinery. Ken is a leader in the use of salvaged, reclaimed, and sustainably harvested timber. He takes this respect and understanding of wood and creates his beautiful designs using his “live edge” technique, book-matching and single-board design.

Ken loves understanding a client’s vision and working closely with them to help make their dream design a reality.

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