A Celebration of Craft in Northampton
If you really need an excuse to visit Northampton, the Paradise City Arts Festival is a good one. Two times a year, over the holiday weekends bookending the warm weather season, hoards of artists and crafts practitioners descend upon the Northampton Fairgrounds, transforming the agricultural barns and fallow fields that were once the playground of horses into a grand emporium of fine crafts. Jewelry, fiber and fashion, photography, fine woodworking and elegant expressions of furniture are all part of the mix along with painted tableaus and mixed media works in a plethora of sizes and styles destined to find homes on the walls of patrons.
Four art barns feature a stable of artists and crafts folk who regularly return for each show, vending their wares and looking for a unique niche and presentation point. Many have developed an ongoing relationship with collectors seeking to consider the newest offerings of their favored artisans.
The only livestock to be found on this hallowed ground are those fabricated in iron and steel. Adding to the complement of iron beasts of Dale Rogers, always a favorite of festivalgoers, is a fanciful 14-foot dragon fabricated in colorful fragments of recycled material; artist Piper Foreso calls her phantasmagoria “Dragonflies.” Her scales are made from beer and soda cans and her face from color-shifting glass. Additional elemental materials of the beast include copper tubing, foiled insulation, roof flashing, and steel rods. Foreso’s flying leviathan echoes the theme of this year’s special exhibit “UP IN THE AIR,” featuring all matter of winged creatures, great and small.