By Michele DeLuca email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — It’s watercolorist Jody Ziehm’s first time as a participant at the Kenan Center’s 100 American Craftsmen show. But she won’t be bringing her paintings.
That’s because, despite the many award’s she’s won for her canvases, the annual juried show, which runs Friday, May 31, through June 2, does not include a category for paintings.
So now and then over the past two years, Ziehm has set aside her paintbrushes to create a whole new kind of artwork, restoring and combining unique pieces she finds scavenging through places where old things lie in wait. She calls it “upcycling.”
“I started to branch out with some collage work. It just kind of snowballed from there,” said the artist, standing amidst her collection of tiles, glass pieces, frames and doorknobs.
“And, oh, my, I love this so much,” she added of her newest creative outlet. “I love transforming things into functional art.”
Of course, this type of art, she is quick to note, is best not done alone. It requires the help of her husband, Dave, an engineer, who joins Jody donning grubby workshoes and old clothes when they go hunting for cool things to recreate. Son, Dan, and daughter-in-law, Kim, help too, sawing, painting and wiring the collected pieces into eclectic and whimsical works of art.
This leap into a whole new art form is admittedly scary for the artist, who has already established herself as a painter and recently shared an exhibit with another painter at the Kenan Center, where 100 Craftsmen is being held.
Her participation in the show is another element of excitement for show planners.
“This is a whole new genre for her and I think people are going to be really excited to see what she does,” said Elaine Harrigan, spokesperson for the Kenan Center, who noted that repurposing is showing up in a lot of categories of new American craft. “People are really responding to it,” she said. “They’re seeing it in magazines and galleries.”
“For our show, it started years ago with Chris Stangler and his handmade paper,” Harrigan added, explaining that the Lockport artist incorporates found objects from nature with his paper and makes hanging works of art. Stangler, who recently opened a shop in Orchard Park, was given the award of “master craftsman” by the Kenan Center, and will also be at this year’s show.
Another artist using something “old” in her work is Patty Cancilla, a jewelry maker from Grand Island, whose handmade jewelry includes gold and silver wrapped around shining slices of fossils or gemstones.
Cancilla has attended 100 American Craftsman for the past four years and calls it one of her top shows.
“It’s very high-quality items and they’re very specific about the mix of venders that are in the show — to give people a range of purchase options — which is lovely for the people that are purchasing,” she said.
The jewelry-maker has won some awards for her work, including a first place at the Orchard Park Quaker Arts Festval, and the “Purchase Award” at the 2011 Allentown Art Festival, which meant a piece of hers was purchased by festival planners for display in festival headquarters.
While doing about 16 juried shows a year, Cancilla looks especially forward to 100 American Craftsmen as a place to showcase her pendants, earrings and bracelets.
“The people that run it are really fabulous and they treat the artists really lovely,” she said.
This year’s show is offering several new features, including the presence of Black Willow Winery from Burt, providing wine by the glass and also selling bottles. There is also a new musical act performing on Saturday afternoon. Buffalo Music Hall of Famer Doug Yeomans and his Mountain Run band will be playing bluegrass music for attendees. There is music throughout the three days of the event, as well as a variety of food vendors and a sit-down cafe. The Friends of the Kenan Herb Club will also host its annual Herbal Plant Sale on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
IF YOU GO • WHAT: 43rd annual 100 American Craftsmen • WHEN: 6-9 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 2 • WHERE: Kenan Center Arena, 195 Beattie Ave., Lockport • MORE INFO: Call 433-2619 or visit www.kenancenter.org • COST: Admission is $8.