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 three intriguing and accomplished new artists. Meet an extraordinary furniture maker from upstate New York and two artists from New Hampshire: an abstract landscape painter working in mixed media and a handbag and jewelry designer who pushes the boundaries of the imagination using polymer clay as her starting point. They all look forward to exhibiting in Marlborough March 22-24 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center.

Function. Quality. Beauty. These aren’t just words to B.R. Delaney – they are the guiding principles of his contemporary lighting and furniture making. In every step of his woodworking process—from inception to completion—Delaney lets these terms guide his hand to create a piece that will stand the test of time. Living in forested upstate New York, Delaney uses locally harvested wood to create pieces from renewable resources.

By combining different types of woods, such as walnut, butternut, and ash, with metal and stone, he couples traditional and modern woodworking techniques to create one-of-a-kind and custom tables, chandeliers, bookshelves, and consoles. Delaney is inspired by the studio furniture movement of the mid-twentieth century and craftsmen such as George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, and Wharton Esherick. Experience, persistence, and education have informed his design and construction techniques over the decades, allowing Delaney to develop a style that uniquely combines traditional and experimental elements. This woodworker has been recognized as one of “Six Hudson Valley Furniture Makers You Need to Know” and featured in Upstate House Magazine last fall.

New Hampshire abstract painter Kent Maxwell is a master at transporting viewers to worlds unknown. Rather than focus on the details of a landscape or seascape, Kent experiments with a variety of techniques and media to build textures, layers, and colors that create an impression of a scene. “I want the viewer to decide the specifics. Perhaps my painting reminds them of a place they have been, or provokes a memory of the past,” he says. “I aim to paint a porthole to another world, not a view out the window. The effect is liberation from the world we inhabit in the present moment, and an escape to a place with the eerie familiarity of a lost memory.”

Following his fine arts education at New England College, Maxwell apprenticed with stained glass artist Patricia Barkley and Maine painter Richard Lethem. Today, his progressive methods for creating low-relief textures on canvas go far beyond the paintbrush. Using trowels, paint scrapers and other tools to emphasize the ambience of a scene, Maxwell, who lives and works on the seacoast of New Hampshire, achieves an atmosphere in his paintings that fire the viewer’s imagination, connecting memory, mood, and dreams.

An evening purse shaped like a rock?  A necklace resembling a ring of mushrooms? For polymer clay artist Kathleen Dustin, these unusual forms for handbags and jewelry are just the norm. “People often ask me where my ideas come from. The imagery of my work comes from taking a deep look at my life, the lives of women around the world, and walks in the wood and fields that surround my home,” she says.

Dustin is recognized as a pioneer in the polymer clay movement. She mixes her own colors, kneads, layers, and sculpts the clay which is then oven-baked multiple times as more layers of clay are added. She combines the clay with natural and human-made materials such as mountain laurel wood, pearls, sterling silver, and rubber. The intricately yet loosely designed purses are lightweight, flexible and functional. The patterns are informed by her collection of ethnic art from developing countries and numerous years of living and traveling overseas. Her work has received national attention and resides in multiple museum collections including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, Tassenmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Currier Museum of Art in New Hampshire.