Spring Northampton Directors’ Picks

The 250 artists who are accepted to participate in the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton on Memorial Day Weekend 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 Spring Northampton Directors’ Picks include a North Carolina wood sculptor whose views from a plane window have inspired his work, a Virginia jeweler who mines and cuts her own turquoise, a Massachusetts ceramist with a Scandinavian sensibility and a Vermont painter whose lyrical artwork on canvas can sometimes be found on recycled guitars. Please welcome these four and about four dozen more new artists to Paradise City Northampton this spring!

CRAIG KASSAN turns wood into works of art, creating stunning sculptures and fine furniture from a wide variety of woods. The idea for his unique wall sculptures originated with a plane trip to Salt Lake City. While flying over the country, Kassan became intrigued with the patterns created by the plots of land and the crop circles in the farms far below. He began to mimic these fascinating landscapes in wood, creating multi-panel pieces that are set on top of textured metal backgrounds to add depth and character.

These sculptures have become one of Kassan’s most important artistic outlets. “Wall sculptures are my favorite things to make because they combine furniture making and wood turning,” he says. Kassan has received regional and national recognition. His work has been featured in multiple national magazines including American Woodturner, Woodwork, and Woodturning. His work graces the cover of Gregg Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibition catalogue With Lathe and Chisel. In his home territory of North Carolina, he was named a Franklin County NC Artist of the Year and placed first and second at the Woodturning Competition in Raleigh.

LYNN HARRISBERGER lives on the east coast now but heads west whenever she can. She explains that “I was born into a world where the horizon splits the plains from the sky.” Her one-of-a-kind jewelry made with extremely rare natural Blue Moon turquoise reflects her love of the West’s wide-open spaces, rugged hills, and endless blue skies.

Harrisberger’s discovery of natural turquoise as her artistic muse resulted from a chance encounter with the owner of several Nevada turquoise mines. She calls the encounter her “cosmic giggle”—something that was meant to be. The process of mining turquoise is arduous, as she must rake rubble blasted from the hillside by hand to find each nugget. She returns to Nevada each year from her Virginia Beach home to work with the miners. Her jewelry has received national recognition. She received the 2015 NICHE award in silver and stones and was a 2017 NICHE Award Finalist in fine jewelry. Her work has been featured in many magazines, including Art Jewelry, Cowboys and Indians, Lapidary Journal and the cover of Best in American Made.

“I’ve been obsessed with Sweden and Denmark for as long as I can remember,” says ceramic artist KIMBERLY ALLISON. She credits her Swedish grandmother with instilling a love of Scandinavian minimalism and “hygge.” Pronounced “hoo-ga,” this Danish concept encompasses a feeling of coziness and well-being by enjoying the simple things in life. Allison’s bowls, vases and mugs mirror the Nordic world of birch forests, the charcoal of warming burnt wood, and the juxtaposition of soft white clouds dancing across brilliant blue skies.

Believing that ceramics should be touched to be fully appreciated, her work often combines rough and smooth textures in a single piece. Using techniques such as Japanese Mishima inlay, hand carving, slipped surfaces, and simple glazes, Allison creates pieces that are not only beautiful to look at, but beg to be touched. A Salem, MA ceramist, she shares her skills and love of clay teaching wheel-throwing and hand building pottery at The Clay School.

Vermont artist SCOTT MORGAN states, “My world is about line, color, form, balance, movement and music.” His lyrical oil paintings are crafted in the tradition of short stories, passages of improvisational music and poetry. Morgan’s work engages bright fields of color with precise and intentional shapes used compositionally as line, along with resonating monochrome and complementary palettes of strong contrasts in value.  The work resounds with visual, lyrical notes: tonal compositions true to both the visual and performing arts.

And the guitars! When these instruments have reached the end of their ‘playable’ lifetimes, they gain a new life in Morgan’s hands. Their broken necks and bodies receive major reconstruction, a loving touch and a whole lot of paint. No longer musical instruments, they become fine art on a unique canvas. Morgan always works from all sides of a canvas – as indeed he must with a three-dimensional surface such as a guitar, developing each piece from every angle.