TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lowertown Art & Music Festival in Paducah

Memorial Day Weekend means that it's festival time in Lowertown, here in Paducah. Lowertown is a neighborhood adjacent to Paducah's historic downtown which benefited from a City initiative which designated it as a gallery district. Paducah's Artist Relocation Program has attracted artists from around the country, bringing in needed cultural and financial capital. Once a neighborhood falling into disrepair, Lowertown now attracts new residents and tourists who enjoy the restored historical homes and galleries, along with a wonderful sense of community.

The Lowertown Art & Music Festival is a chance to celebrate local talent as well as those of vendors and musicians participating from places far and near.

I worked at HeART of Healing Gallery, one of the Lowertown galleries, and had a chance to run around and see if I could find any fiber people. (See tomorrow's post for more info on HeART of Healing.) For some reason, every year during the festival, we get Paducah's worst, hot and steamy weather. Of course it rained the day after the festival was over and now it's gorgeous, crisp and beautiful. Despite the conditions, people seemed to really enjoy themselves. I watched a belly dance presentation for a bit, then went on to find the fiber folks. I found three who were all excellent.

Teresa Hays does some of the best marbling on silk that I have ever seen. It's not a technique that I am normally drawn to, unless it's executed with talent. Well, Teresa has mastered marbling. Her wonderful color palette swirls and feathers, complementing her excellent choice of designs in silk garments, scarves, purses and men's ties. Teresa lives in Franklin, Tn.

Mary Waite came all the way up from Florida and was happy to get away from the humidity down there (!!!!). She was probably one of the few who was actually enjoying the weather.

Mary weaves and her booth was displayed with gorgeous ikats, scarves and natural textures. A hard sell on a hot, humid day, but I did have a customer at HeART of Healing who was a weaver and just had to buy one of her shawls because she knew how much work went into it!

Finally, a booth with musical instruments caught my eye. When I told Chad Scott I wanted to post his work on a fiber blog, he seemed a bit surprised. Well, maybe 3-d bamboo pieces are not normally included in the fiber category, but I love it and for the purposes of this blog, bamboo will always have a welcomed place.

Drumzrguruven (he uses umlas , but I don't know how to add symbols through blogger), has a great website with more info on their drums, didgeridoos, and rainsticks. Make sure to read Chad's artist statement!

The instruments show excellent craftsmanship and design.

I had to run on back to my job, but was happy to see these and other artists making Lowertown come to life. Of course I bumped into a couple of friends:

Monica Bilak, actually did most of the organizing of the festival. Can you tell she didn't want a photo taken? "Come on, Monica! Give me that smile..."

She did it, but if you look closely, she's throwing daggers at me through her eyes. Monica was one of my first friends in Paducah. She and her husband, Paul, lived in Kenya for a few years and when they came to Paducah, Monica opened a retail store in Lowertown called Global Nomad. (My kind of store!) She also bought a lot of the things I made, just to be supportive... Since then, she decided that retail was not for her and they changed the store into a guest house called "The Mary Jane Inn". Monica and Paul also are actively involved in an important project they helped start in Kenya, Project Aids Orphan, which helps children who have been orphaned because of Aids.

Then, I saw Merle, sitting in his recycling booth:

Merle and his wife, Deb, are also Chicago transplants. Deb is also a member of Paducah Fiber Artists, and Merle works for the City as an inspector. Merle has been extremely helpful to me in my housing search, but more importantly, he is mobilizing the city into a rapidly growing recycling movement.

So, that was my little time at the festival. Paducah is a wonderful place to live. If you are an artist looking to relocate, there are still properties available in Lowertown. While most of the country is suffering a housing crisis, Paducah is experiencing revitalization with increasing property values. There are plenty of nice houses with big yards around the city for under $100K and for those of us who are struggling artists, there are also fixer uppers available from 10K on up. If you don't want to move here, but are driving nearby, know that the turn off is worth the exploration. There are plenty of treasures to discover here in Paducah!


1 comment:

“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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