Oct 23, 2012

Kentuck 2012

Recently, Mary Ann and I replaced the countertops in our kitchen.  We chose a light marbleized Corian material.  It dramatically changed the "feel" of the room, since the countertops had previously been a deep red formica.  You can probably anticipate where this is going -- obviously the room needs new wall colors, etc., etc., etc.

Mary Ann had rightly concluded that we probably needed to decide what might be hanging on the walls to help us decide what color might look best on those walls.  It's all about texture and harmony and complementary hues.  So the quest began to find just the right wall decoration.

Fortunately, we had run across a terrific juried art show many years ago that is held every year in October.  It's called the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, held in Northport, Alabama, and now in its 41st year.  We made plans to attend this past weekend to see if we might find something that would be just the thing for the corner that needed brightening up.

Mary Ann had done her homework.  She had started with the list of exhibitors on the Kentuck Web site and looked at the Web pages of as many artists as she could find listed.  So by the time we arrived on Saturday morning, she was well aware of several artists whose works interested her.  We began the quest.

Within the first half hour, we arrived at the display of an abstract painter from St. Louis named Sharon Spillar.  As soon as I saw Mary Ann's reaction to this lady's work, I felt we had found the right source.  Then began the challenge of selecting the "right" pieces that would all be complementary.  We ended up purchasing two panels 30" by 10" and six smaller accent panels, each about 8" square.  Here they are on one of Ms. Spillar's display panels at the show:

They are done in acrylic, over which the artist applies a glossy clear acrylic seal coat.  They should be absolutely impervious to any airborne contaminants that a kitchen can produce.  They look striking set in place in our kitchen.  Now, of course, we need to decide on wall coloring and do the painting.

Saturday evening, we proceeded to a restaurant in Tuscaloosa that had been recommended by Kay Brown, a colleague at Camber.  The Cypress Inn proved to be a marvelous choice.  Our table overlooked the Warrior River and the sun was setting during our meal, so the ever-changing scenery was just perfect.  What a treat!

We awoke Sunday morning to another beautiful day, and Mary Ann had planned even more surprises.  We got cleaned up and loaded the car and proceeded to Five Points South in Birmingham, a really quaint part of town.  We had a nice lunch at Fuego Cantina, then proceeded to walk along Eleventh Avenue, past the Highlands Bar and Grille, then through their parking lot toward a large mansion undergoing restoration.  This turned out to be the home of sculptor Ira Chaffin.  Mary Ann had located him through her search for a carousel horse carving school, something I had expressed an interest in for several years.

Mr. Chaffin opened his animal carving studio to us and took us on the grand tour.  We saw several projects being completed by his students.  These included a local surgeon now working on his fifth animal and a grandmother who started with zero experience and is now working on a most impressive lion, her second animal!  Here are some examples from his studio:


We spent an hour or so talking with Mr. Chaffin, after which we returned home, tired but pleased that we had found the decorative items we had hoped to find, done so much and learned so much.

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