painting the town green and red: holiday art market 2013.

Art Market signValerie Smith is an industrious woman. Maybe it comes from having taught public school art, where your budget is like 17 cents a kid and you have to constantly make something from nothing, find ways to scrape together materials, and figure out how to get kids to complete projects when you only see them once or twice a week. Valerie just finds a way. I can picture her down there at Larkin Arts. “Hey, Val, can I teach a children’s class here this summer?” “Yes.” And off she goes to make it happen.
“Can I rent out a studio space?”
“Yes.”
“Can I have live music at my art opening?”
“Yes.”
“Food?”
“Yes.”
“Wine?”
“Yes.”
“Can I hang a 24-artist portrait show in your gallery?”
“Yes.”
“Can we paint a mural in your lobby?”
“Yes.”
“Can we set up tables and sell our arts and crafts in your store?”
“Yes.”
And then she scurries off, gathering tables and linens and chairs, lights and extension cords, nails and hammers and paint. Wine glasses and cork screws. She just finds a way.

Last Saturday she found a way to welcome twelve local artists and their wares into her store so they could set up and sell their goods at the first of two Holiday Art Markets this year. In warmer weather, the art markets take place outside on the sidewalk there, but knowing her artists and patrons would be more comfortable inside on that brisk morning, she practically gutted and rearranged several rooms to accommodate everyone. There were three in the lobby, four or five in the gallery, and six-ish in the classroom. I happened to have a little break from my kiddos that day, so I was really excited to get down there and help out.

Once everyone was set up and the market officially opened, dozens of customers strolled through… enjoying light snacks, pouring over beautiful hand-crafted items, and purchasing unique gifts for their loved ones. Here’s a run down of everyone who participated.

Roy Williams and his family create beautiful sculptures and chess sets out of Kenyan soapstone. I actually bought a chess set back in July at the Valley Fourth art market. My son loves playing “stone chess.”

Roy Willams soapstone2Chris Carter boasted a lovely display of blankets, hats, bows, and jewelry, and Denise Allen’s paper items rounded out the room. She had cards, stationery, coloring books, ornaments, and star-shaped crayons made from melted down crayon scraps.

carter Denise Allen paper1 Denise Allen paper2In the gallery area, Jauan Brooks displayed a beautiful assortment of jewelry and textiles, and Kelley Shradley-Horst sold her found art and eclectic jewelry.

Jauan Brooks art1 Kelley ShradleyHorst1In the lobby, you could see the impressive selection offered by Hannah Johnson, including some really amazing framed drawings. Ashley Miller’s paintings brightened up the space, and Mary Yoder had some lovely sketches, cards, and necklaces for sale.

Hannah Johnson artMary Yoder 1 Mary Yoder necklacesAshley Miller paintingsBrandy and Ben shared a table in one of the classrooms. Brandy sold her original tee shirts to raise money for Art Lotto 2014 and also offered gift certificates for photography sessions. She’s done A LOT of sessions in the past few, and her web site is all up-to-date, so please go there and see her recent work! Ben’s upcycled wine bottles are really cool. He takes wine bottles, or other glass bottles, and cuts them into a new shape for a new purpose, sands it down, and even etches. He specializes in wedding centerpieces. He also had some paracord items available.

Ben Fraits glassOf course, Brandy and Ben were positioned next to the Rosenwassers — Bruce and Leah. Being next to their table is like having to sing after Streisand or Sinatra. Their work just always makes the room explode. Leah makes absolutely gorgeous jewelry, and Bruce makes some of the wooden pieces she uses. Bruce also makes a variety of reclaimed wood items — mirrors, sculptures, collages, trinkets.

Bruce Rosenwasser heartsLeah Rosenwasser jewelry1Emily Rees’ paintings were instantly recognizable. So much color and contrast and texture, really gorgeous and timeless work. Next to her was Morgan Fink, whose bright prints happied up the place.

Emily Rees paintings 1bwMorgan Fink cardsAnd of course, Zac Naftziger was working in his studio there, and we could hear the “wow’s” in the next room!

ZN Stained Glass bwAfter getting there and getting set up and helping some customers, Brandy and I decided to slip out to the beer tasting at Downtown Wine and Gourmet. Also, I had to pee, and I didn’t feel I could concentrate well enough to shop until I was… more comfortable. So Ben manned the table while we scooted out for a few minutes. Of course, once at the wine shop, we told everyone we saw about the art market.

beer tasting1 beer tastingbwBack at Larkin, I was feeling better and could take my time to browse, and I decided on one of Mary Yoder’s necklaces. Brandy picked out one of her sketches.

Mary Yoder deer Mary Yoder necklaceIf you missed the Holiday Art Market, don’t fret. There’s another one! Yep, that’s right! On Saturday, December 14, you can come on down to Larkin Arts and do some more shopping. And TONIGHT at Larkin, come to the Wonderkittens Artist/Child Portrait Show! Starts at 5pm and features TWO Arteries (live painting, all can participate) and the music of Nick Melas! In fact, you might as well just bring a cot to Larkin for the next couple weeks and camp out. Valerie can probably find a way.

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

material world: ragtime fabrics.

ragtime fabrics signWhen you live on a “fixed income” like I do (and I say “fixed” because as a teacher, you get paid the same exact amount every month, with no opportunity for a bonus or commission or that sort of thing), you have to look for creative ways to get stuff that you didn’t originally account for in your budget. Back-to-school supplies, for instance. It’s not that I forgot that school was starting and that we’d have to get those items… but I didn’t budget for it correctly and man, those things add up! We also had an unexpected bunny illness and a trip to the ER. Who includes “bunny illness” in their budget??

During summer break, I like to make little improvements to the house. This year I built lots and lots of cubbies and shelves and storage units. I painted the kitchen table and chairs. I decided I was tired of the colors in the family room, so I recovered all the big sofa pillows. Ready-made shelves and cubbies are pricey, and so are pillows. Have you shopped for pillows lately? You can blow thirty bucks on ONE decorative pillow. Screw that!

Yes, doing all this takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. And quite frankly, necessary. So recently, I tackled my final project of the summer: curtains. First, I priced ready-made curtains online. To dress the four windows in my family room would have cost about $225. Instead, I went to Ragtime Fabrics and bought plenty of fabric for about forty smacks! Cha-ching!

It was a good time for Brandy and me to go to Ragtime Fabrics because we were out of material — for curtains AND for this blog. My kids were along with us, and they quickly disappeared amid the rows and rows of colorful cloth. And all that fabric helped drown out whatever annoying noise they might have been making.
ragtime fabrics bolt collage
ragtime fabric bolts 2In talking to the ladies there, I learned that they’ve been in this location — on West Market adjacent to the Artful Dodger — for about 10 years, and as you can see from their Facebook photo albums, they’ve woven many memories. Some of those pictures will have you in stitches!

I vaguely remember thinking, as I pushed open the door, “I hope I find something I like in here…” But that thought quickly frayed and I had a new worry: how would I ever choose?? They have (literally, I’m sure) tons and tons of fabrics and material for any project you can conjure. You’ll find the usuals: cotton, twill, broadcloth, silk. They sell sturdy, hardy fabrics like corduroy and denim, canvas and burlap. Or maybe you’re after something gauzy and light and fluffier, like taffeta or lamé or muslin. And I spent a great deal of time petting the snuggly fabrics like wool, flannel, fleece, velvet, and thinking about snow days and Christmas. They even have leather and fur! Cal really liked that:

ragtime fabrics furThey also sell EVERYTHING else you need for your project, be it a machine or buttons, feathers or stuffing, thread or even a Muppets patch.

ragtime fabrics ribbons 3 ragtime fabrics buttons ragtime fabrics animalAfter far too long poring over hundreds of fabrics that I loved equally, my kids’ behavior was starting to unravel. Kids are great at forcing you to decide quickly. As they bolted hither and thither through the store, I gathered up two fabrics — one purple, one gray — and headed to the front. The employee gently cut several yards for me, I thanked her, and we left.

ragtime fabrics aisleragtime fabrics grayragtime fabrics scissorsI left with more ideas than I have time for. Of course, you can’t be that close to the Dodger without stopping for a beverage. So we did. But fast, because I wanted to get home to my project!

Ragtime Fabrics also offers classes, lessons, and clubs, which you can find on their calendar. Whatever crafty idea you’ve got up your sleeve, even if it doesn’t involve sewing, you should swing by this place because, chances are, for a very reasonable price, they have that little rare craft item you’re looking for. And that’s no fabrication. Oh golly.

ragtime fabrics ladiesCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

loud & clear: MACRoCk 2013.

MACRoCk tee shirtOn Sunday, April 7, I saw this post on Facebook and laughed out loud:
macrock facebookIt was like 8pm.

Not surprising. God bless those folks who once again brought this two-day music conference and thousands of people to Harrisonburg. I can’t even imagine where to start putting something like that together. If I can get rice, chicken, and green beans to be ready at the same time, I’m impressed with myself.

We attended MACRoCk on Saturday, the second night. And actually, the day started early, at the Larkin Arts first-ever Art Market (read about that here). More than a dozen artists plunked their wares on tables outside the Denton building. It was sunny and bright, people were chatty and cheerful, and the burg was a-bustle with locals and visitors alike. A happy morning.

Many Nights AheadAfter a bit we made our way to the Blue Nile for the label expo, where we saw books and upcycled clothing, tee shirts, buttons and stickers, pottery and “animal-friendly taxidermy,” and, refreshingly, lots of vinyl.

Label ExpoLabel Expo Label ExpoThen Brandy had to scoot out for a bit, and Michael and I headed to the Dodger. By now it was 2:30. We’d already been downtown for four hours and had ten hours yet to go. When we arrived there, Pachangacha was on stage and the place was packed. We found a tiny sliver of space at the bar. It was funny to watch the crowd come and go. After Pachangacha finished, this massive throng of people vacated, chasing the next show, and some seats opened up. We quick planted ourselves at a table. We enjoyed a performance by Amanda X — three ladies out of Philly: Cat Park, Kat Bean, and Tiff Yoon. They released their first EP back in August. Have a listen! Then sure enough, the mass of spectators shoved through the doors, and this time we scored a booth!!

Artful DodgerNext up was a band from New York called Lvl Up whose latest album Extra Worlds had JUST been released that very day. And they were loud as ohmyfreakinears. In a good way. And with quiet segments that would build to some kind of sonic boom. They’ve got two guitars, a bass, and drums, and they took turns singing or sometimes all three of them sang. I heard a little hint of Weezer at times. They were really great, and it stands to reason that we liked the next band, too — Sirs — because the two bands share some band mates.

MACRoCk Dodger 8 MACRoCk Dodger6Seat update: After Lvl Up we snagged the coveted “circle booth” at the Dodger. We knew Brandy would be coming with Danielle and Ben, and I was right tickled to know that everyone would have a seat. So we moved ourselves and all our stuff one last time, and stayed there through two more bands.

Artful Dodger 3As I was saying, Sirs played next and then Monument, from Maryland. Both bands were awesome, freakishly loud, extraordinarily tight. Brandy (sporting her MACRoCk press pass…. eeeeeee!), Ben, and Danielle arrived and we all mouthed “hello” to each other. Then we had a conversation about where to go for dinner by passing around a spiral notebook. Yes, it was that loud. Louder even. I felt like I was stuffed with cotton. In a good way.

press passIt should come as a surprise to no one who ever reads this thing that we ended up at Beyond. I don’t remember a whole lot about our dinner conversation, probably because I couldn’t hear ANY of it. But a good portion of it was devoted to the fact that Beyond had just gotten a keg of Juju Ginger beer, and Brandy got THE FIRST GLASS OF THE SEASON. This was better than the press pass, I think.

Juju JujuWe also talked about the band descriptions in the MACRoCk program. Some of our faves:

Black Mask – If you’ve never been curb stomped, Black Mask is probably the closest you’ll come without doing the deed. Metallic hardcore from Punxsutawney, PA for fans of early Converge, Nails, and Black Breath. Makes you wanna puke blood in the best way.

Barbelith – Atmospheric depressive black metal inspired by the wrathful elder gods, soiled by the scummy streets of Baltimore.

Borrowed Beams of Light – Borrowed Beams are a soundtrack to the perfect sunny summer indie-rock barbeque that you and all of your friends want to get drunk at.

Dope Body – Noise-rock freakcore from Baltimore. Do you ever think that your punk could use a little more metal and your metal could use a little more funk and that your funk really should be garage rock and not funk? You’re on this band’s wavelength then. Noisy guitar spazzouts are cut with freak hybrids of punk and funk rhythms.

Legs Like Tree Trunks – Mellow guitars with a side of reverb-heavy twinkles and soft-sung, dreamy vocals. Sounds like taking your shoes off after a long day of work.

Shat Shorts (omg) – Very, very weird punk. Blends hardcore, noise-rock, and thrash into one ridiculously chaotic package. Rhythms jump and shift drastically, and this one guitar is just spazzing out the whole time.

Other than that, the only really notable part of the conversation was when Brandy asked, “Wait. Is Jimmy short for James?”
Beyond Restaurant Beyond sushi

fansUnlike the hordes of people who zigzagged through downtown, moving in and out of venues like kids on a scavenger hunt, we tended to stay a while. So our second and last stop of the evening was Court Square Theater, where we saw Wynter Poe, Half Circles, and Timbre. That place is so comfy, what with its cushioned rocking chair-ish seats, age-defying lighting, and beer, there’s just no good reason to leave. We got there at about 7:15 and found seats on the front row. Good for photographs, and good for leg room.

Wynter Poe was unexpectedly awesome. I mean, we really had no expectations, but she impressed the crowd. The band — four people including Wynter — played at least five instruments: a couple of guitars, a bass, drums, a dulcimer. Here and there they sounded a bit like The Sundays, and Wynter’s vocal quality reminded me of Christina Perri. Other than that, the band defies comparison.

Wynter Poe Wynter PoeWynter Poe Wynter PoeIt was fun to see Half Circles, an eclectic Harrisonburg band who played far more instruments than they collectively had hands for. The guitar at times smacked of The Cure; another description that comes to mind is “bluesy Smashing Pumpkins,” but neither of those comparisons can pin down their multi-dimensional sound because suddenly there’d be a melodica or a xylophone or a flute to change my mind. Honey-laced vocals by Dan Baker and the unassuming, hands-in-pockets Amanda Styer led each tune and provided a solid foundation for their instrumental concoctions.

Half Circles Half CirclesWe fell in love with Timbre last year and couldn’t wait to see her again. And hear her, too, of course. But part of a live show is the visual aspect. And when one band member is seated behind a cello, one is seated behind a harp, and one behind a drum kit, you might not expect much in terms of a visual experience. BUT, that cellist was amazing to watch, Timbre looked beautiful in her gown behind that gleaming harp, and the drummer (who played a gorgeous wooden Whitney kit) actually danced while he played. They were all obviously quite happy on stage and love what they do. So they looked great. Add to that their incredible, crystal clear sound. They are made for live performance because their hypnotic music fills the space so well.

Timbre TimbreAdd to THAT their lyrics. Lines like “No one will know you long enough to sing your song back to you when you’ve lost the tune” juxtaposed with “Pain can be beautiful, my dear.” And a song inspired by the George MacDonald story “The Day Boy and the Night Girl” about light and dark and how they came to discover each other. The song centers around her perspective, from her dark cave. Her lamp, and the only light she’s ever known, breaks. She finds a way out of the cave and sees the moon for the first time. Then she meets Day Boy, and he shows her the sun. She wants the light, even if it hurts or kills her. He wants to be unafraid of the dark. They need each other’s strength. As the song says, “If I have seen only the night, can I imagine the day?” We see what we know; we know what we see. Sometimes we must step out blindly, even when it’s scary.

And on that “note,” (oh, ha!), we stepped out into the dark night with the moon shining and music playing in the distance and people laughing and our minds buzzing and our ears ringing. In a good way.

See you next year, MACRoCK!!

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.