Fall Northampton • Directors’ Picks
The 225 artists who are accepted to participate in the 25th Annual Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton are the “best-of-the-best” of America’s independent painters, sculptors and craft makers from every corner of America. Each season, Paradise City introduces dozens of exciting new artists who will exhibit their work in the Northampton show for the first time.
The brand-new exhibitors in this show selected for the Fall Northampton Directors’ Picks include an artist from Florida whose oil paintings capture enthralled art lovers in museums, a Brooklyn jeweler who explores her urban edge, a North Carolina glassblower inspired by the sea and a mask-maker of endangered animals from New York State. Please welcome these four and dozens of fabulous new artists to Paradise City Northampton this fall!
JON SMITH began his artistic life as a plein air painter, enjoying the sensory experience of painting outside while studying the Impressionists in southern France. But as he also studied the Old Masters, he began to change his style, combining the realism of classical painting with the light and color of the Impressionists. Smith describes his style as “loose realism with a hint of Impressionism.” His ongoing studies led him inside museums, where he became enthralled with the relationship of people to artwork.
Today, he loves creating oil paintings that capture the fine lines of museum architecture and the lively spontaneity of people enjoying the art. Smith believes the goal of his painting is providing an introduction to a story. “Don’t let the experts tell you how to look at a painting. Discover for yourself the story behind the image you are viewing,” he says. His work is included in many private and corporate collections including the Boston Stock Exchange, Omni and Westin Hotels in Boston and New Haven and even the venerable Union Oyster House. He lives in Clearwater, Florida.
A fan of jeweler SHAUNA BLYTHE BURKE recently described her work as “having an urban edge yet maintaining a feminine elegance.” Burke thinks this description hits the nail on the head. As a native New Yorker, the industrial landscape of the city inspires her work. She finds the environment tough and gritty, yet exquisitely vulnerable, and strives to bring these disparate elements together in her jewelry.
“My designs are influenced by the industrial world around me, such as the pattern of a sewer grate or an Art Deco image impressed into an old radiator. I bring the industrial and the beautiful together by creating jewelry in which a subtle, often elegant interior peaks out from a tough exterior, ” Burke says. She achieves this balance by combining rough cut stones with delicately wrought 18K gold and oxidized silver to create one-of-a-kind necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, and rings for men and women. Educated at Pratt Institute, she studied classic metalsmithing techniques in Florence, Italy and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
SAM STARK first saw molten glass as a five-year-old. “I was just like a moth drawn to the flame. The idea of making glass became an obsession for me,” Stark says. Ever since, he has immersed himself in the art of glassblowing, studying with some of the great masters in the Studio Art Glass movement of the 20th century. Color is at the heart of Stark’s designs. For each piece, he creates his own colors by melting sand into glass and has developed a specialized technique for forming luminous color in overlapping layers of clear glass.
Stark creates a wide range of art and functional glass work, like his large, sinuous chandeliers, blown glass wall installations and vibrant bowls inspired by ocean tidal pools. He even makes unique rock forms by blowing molten glass into real rock molds and adding coral, barnacles and sea creatures, all sculpted in glass. He learned to dive at the age of 12, and the sea has always been a powerful influence on his work. Stark is inspired by the adventure of the ocean and strives to mirror the endless array of marine life – its color, form and texture – in many of his art glass pieces. He hails from Eden, North Carolina.
MARY JANE PICCUIRRO’s striking animal masks are hand-sculpted in papier maché using recycled paper. She often ornaments them with objects found on the forest floor, like birch bark or discarded hornets’ nests. Some of them highlight endangered species, threatened by the loss of rain forests. A self-taught artist, Piccuirro says, “When dry, the masks are sanded, primed and painted black. I love working on black! I stare at the mask for hours before I see what has to be done. Then the fun begins. I paint the mask and embellish it to create the look it wants, often evolving into elaborate ornamentation with a keen attention to detail.” She is the winner of the 2018 Smithsonian’s “Honoring the Future® Sustainability Award”, judged by Lloyd Herman, Founding Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery. Her “Spirit of the Forest” mask is a tribute to all animals that are losing their homes due to natural disasters caused by climate change. Piccuirro is from West Hurley, New York.