Spring Marlborough Directors’ Picks

The Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough, Massachusetts showcases 175 of the “best-of-the-best” of America’s most talented independent artists, designers and master craft makers. Dozens of remarkable artists were selected to exhibit here for the very first time this spring.

The brand-new exhibitors in this show selected for the Directors’ Picks feature four intriguing and accomplished new artists. Meet two artists from Pennsylvania: a painter of large-scale canvasses bursting with luscious texture and color, and a young glassblower creating unusually shaped luminous vases. There’s also a fashion designer from Cleveland who made quite a splash on Project Runway, and a Maine jeweler, making her Marlborough debut after a several successful Northampton shows, whose world-wide travels inspire her work. All four look forward to exhibiting in Marlborough June 12-14 (new dates) at the Royal Plaza Trade Center.

Peter Stolvoort’s paintings are immediately visceral, an almost Pollock-like riot of texture and color. Though he currently lives and works in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, his paintings are inspired—sometimes directly—by the Transatlantic crossing that brought him from his native Holland to the United States. You can see the impact of his sea crossing, on an actual boat, in some of his works, like the Flow series, which captures the movement of water that brought him to his adult home. But whether he’s painting ocean currents, his Ancient Trees, or the grassy transition between the sea and salt marsh, his process sets his work apart.

Peter Stolvoort, painter

“Copious amounts of acrylic paint are directly poured or applied with a custom-cut brush to create layers of color on the canvas,” he says. “Then, the layers are accented with brush-flung strands, added materials, pallet knife grooves and simple manipulation of the canvas.” The result is a nearly three-dimensional painting, somehow both vivid and calming. 

Stolvoort is a graduate of the Hussian School of Art in Philadelphia where he studied painting, printmaking and design. He furthered his painting studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His works reside in many collections throughout North America and Europe.

Valerie Mayen, fiber artist

Valerie Mayén is a celebrated alumna of Project Runway, and her “Yellowcake Shop” line of wearable art demonstrates a keen attention to detail, superior construction, and timeless design. She states, “My work is modern, clean, and classic with an edge. I pride myself in the highest level of quality construction in my garments. My mission is to help women simplify their wardrobe and the stress of getting dressed by providing timeless key staples that will last them for years to come.” Her tops, dresses and outerwear have clean lines, an adjustable fit, a flirty silhouette, and lots and lots of pockets.

Mayén also believes in enacting everyday practices that reduce her carbon footprint, lower her contribution to textile waste, and educate others about these causes. She supports these goals through donations of time, resources, and skills to local and global non-profit initiatives. Every purchase made supports Yellowcake’s larger mission to alleviate social issues and environmental challenges here and abroad. She is making waves in the sustainable, #slowfashion industry. She lives in Cleveland Ohio.

Danny Polk writes, “Glass art is captivating not only for its fluid beauty, but for its expressive possibilities.” A passion for glassblowing is evident in this young artist’s mastery of traditional and experimental glassblowing techniques. 

Danny Polk, glassblower

This stunning flat vase is from Polk’s Reactive Series in a matte finish. It has two distinct sides or “faces” which provide a unique pattern depending on which side you are viewing. His Lightning Series features graceful vases in clear pastel colors, shot through with lines that zig-zag across the glass surface. The Peacock vases are tall and showy, strutting their colors out there for all to see.

Polk graduated with a BFA from Salisbury University in 2010. Since graduation, he has worked across the country with many talented artists, learning and growing his skill through their example. He currently resides in Pennsylvania and lives his dream as owner and operator of Grateful Gathers Glass. His studio partner and assistant is his wife, Melinda.

Lisa Jane Grant, jeweler

Jeweler Lisa Jane Grant learned the art of Mokume Gane in 2004 when she created wedding bands for her and her husband. She fell in love with the metallurgy of this ancient Japanese technique, a traditional process for creating Samurai swords. Mokume, which translates directly to “wood grain metal,” is created using precious and non-ferrous metals such as platinum, gold, palladium and silver. Upwards of 30 layers of different metals or alloys may be stacked together, heated, and forged to form one piece of metal. The finished product displays myriad layers of colored metals, all chosen by the artist, rippling and flowing in various directions. Grant first creates the Mokume Gane billets in her Maine studio and then designs her pieces of jewelry from this material. Her design goal is to let the eye be drawn to the metal with simply constructed, contemporary, and well-crafted pieces.

Since she was 17, Lisa Grant has travelled to developing countries by herself. She usually returned home with a traditional or contemporary representation of that culture, often in the form of jewelry. She says, “Solo travel to developing countries is an essential part of who I am. The constant change of venues and cultures, and the element of constant surprise are what inspire me. All of my designs are named for a particular memory or experience from time spent in areas to which I have travelled.”