10 May 2011

Colonial Trade Fair

Mr. Fuzzy, heavily influenced by his friends the Jones and the Dresslars, has long been into all things American Colonial in terms of the domestic interior. There are hundreds of very bad attempts at that aesthetic, ranging from Ethan Allen furniture to -made-in-China ceramics; you see them almost on a daily basis in a city of consequence. Oddly, there are an equal number of artisans who make perfect reproductions (or with allowance for modern usage) and on the whole, they are less expensive than the junque which pervades the marketplace of today.

The problem, as you may know, good reader, is finding these artists and viewing their wares. They are unlikely to have galleries or other forms of representation. They are overwhelmingly one-person studios and especially if constructing a complex product such as furniture, their annual output is miniscule.

Consider their unique situation: first, they must spend years in studying period original objects and then, second, spend years acquiring competence in that trade. Many use only 18th century methods in the production of their arts. I know of none whose endeavours produce wealth - just a modest existence. They go into their studios each morn not with a balance sheet in their heads but love of the medium in their hearts.

Fort Frederick State Park (Maryland) holds an annual 18th century trade fair each spring and it is the premier event of its sort south of the Mason-Dixon line. The artist's arts must pass a rigorous jurying process to be admitted - and the number of artists has been capped in recent years. Perhaps 120 or so are there displaying their wares.

Except for a very large event in Lexington, Kentucky, more of Mr. & Mrs. Fuzzy's artisan-craftsman are assembled at Fort Frederick than at any other one place. The Fuzzys attend more to visit with far-flung friends than to acquire material artifacts (that simply occurs as a natural by-product).

If you ever have the chance to attend this four day event, you really should treat yourself. The eye-candy is overpowering and these folks are all more than pleased to converse about their work and that history behind it. Recall that, should you wish a larger image to examine the details, simply click on the image.

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