Spring Marlborough • Directors’ Picks

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

The brand-new exhibitors in this show selected for the Directors’ Picks feature four intriguing new artists, all of whom deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Meet a master jeweler from New York, an accomplished sculptor from Massachusetts, a skilled ceramist from Massachusetts and a couple of innovative creators from Ohio. They all look forward to exhibiting March 22, 23 & 24 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center.

Tom Herman has been an artist for most of his life.  He founded his studio, Seven Fingers Jewelers, in 1982 — a nod to a farming accident that occurred when he was a child in Minnesota. Inspired by organic forms and the natural landscape, Herman’s timeless pieces feature precious stones and detailed metal-carving techniques. Often drawing upon the influence and grandeur of the Art Nouveau period, his jewelry is both romantic and classical. As the artist explains, “My work is naturalistic. I am very influenced by the Aesthetic movement, Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. Using the techniques of carving, saw piercing and chasing, I try to express the aesthetics of nature and light in my work.” 

From his studio in New York, Herman begins by carefully hand-selecting and sorting through piles of precious materials to find unique stones that, in his words, “are able to take on a greater meaning.” He then masterfully hand-fabricates each piece utilizing his knowledge of lapidary, enameling, and carving. Herman’s impeccable workmanship produces jewelry rooted in nature that will be worn and cherished for generations to come.

Boston-based sculptor Gillian Christy is inspired by familiar objects one may encounter on a regular basis. The artist has been creating smaller interior sculptures as well as large-scale, site-specific public works for over a decade. Christy uses the term “Connectors” when referencing her art saying, “I use the term to describe prevailing themes that I explore, considering the elements in our built or natural world that connect home with one’s everyday surroundings.” Using sheet metal, steel and bronze, the artist expertly welds the material into soft, natural forms.

Christy has several significant public commissions all over New England, including a permanent piece at T.F. Green Airport and the Smokestack Project at The Plant (Providence, RI), for which she was awarded by the Americans for the Arts as one of America’s Best Reviewed Public Artworks. Each public work is a commentary on the community and environment in which it’s located.

Liz Kinder started making pottery while attending boarding school, and quips that it helped her to “avoid alternative pastimes that might result in expulsion.” The Massachusetts-based artist uses wax resist to make her signature glazes and designs. After earning a B.A. in Fine Arts at Amherst College, Kinder received a master’s degree in Ceramics and Glass from the Royal College of Art in London.  

Working in both stoneware and porcelain, Kinder’s functional pottery is an eclectic production that results from 8 different clay bodies, 120 glazes and 3 firing techniques. The unique shapes delight with hand-made swirls and wildly creative color combinations. As the artist says, “I’ve been making functional ceramics for almost 40 years, and still never get sick of it. I believe that the clay and glaze absorb and retain some of the joy I feel when I’m working. When people come across my pottery, they often say ‘Wow! It’s so HAPPY!’”

Since 1993, Patti and Bob Stern have been delighting audiences with their unique sculptures and cabinets made from upcycled antiques and artifacts. Their one-of-a-kind creations transform found materials into whimsical, functional art that takes on human form. The couple, from Ohio, collect such items as drill bits for hair, clocks for faces and Victorian hardware for arms, and work together on each piece. Bob assembles the frames and puts the finish on before Patti finalizes the decoration. Using patinas, glazes and weathering techniques, the artists pay homage to the history of the found objects while breathing new life into their function. Each art “person” in their collection has its own name and quirky personality. 

Describing their art as “very cute, whimsical pieces that make people smile,” the artists continue saying “In this day and age when things are so hard, people want to surround themselves with something that makes them feel good. There’s not one person that walks in our booth that doesn’t smile.”