I'm not much of a shopper, but I think those of you who are hitting the malls for their Christmas shopping are missing a great thing. We are surrounded here by artisans who create original, beautiful, useful, decorative and expressive objects for prices well within most shopping budgets.
Newburyport is a natural magnet for artists, but once here they have been gravitating toward the cheaper rents and loftier spaces in the Amesbury mill buildings. A frequently heard theme is "I want to be in Newburyport", but the growing popularity of our beautiful little seaport puts the cost of space here at a premium. The result is a growing, flourishing community of artists in Amesbury that enjoys the strong local support of the Amesbury Cultural Council.
The weekend of November 14th and 15th was a yearly Studio Tour put on by the Cultural Council. I went last year with an artist friend from Portsmouth and we were amazed by what we saw. This past weekend showed the maturing of what is now an established community of Artists.
There are vast selections of jewelry made from every imaginable raw material. Fabrics of all sorts, artistic photography, designer clothing, sculpture and of course visual artwork and paintings using a variety of media are to be found. My focus was on the latter, but I stumbled upon Roger Cramer's amazing artistic pottery at Cedar Street Studios. I had seen and liked his work a year ago, but during my tour this weekend went back to his studio twice, admiring the eastern influence on some unusual pieces. Check out his work (he has a website at www.cramerpottery.com) .
Cedar Street Studios (14 Cedar Street) contains 30+ studios, mostly populated by a wide variety of artists. This year proved that the work there has grown dramatically in popularity, and there were hundreds of visitors touring the premises. I would guess they had several thousand visitors over the weekend. If you missed this past event, Cedar Street is having their Holiday Open Studio and Sale on the weekend of December 4th and 5th. Don't miss it!
"Peach Mountain" by Edith Heyck
The other thing you don't want to miss is a visit to Edith Heyck's studio at 7 Oakland Street, also in Amesbury. Everyone has their own taste in artwork, and I far prefer her expressionist work to the standard New England scenes or other styles such as cubism. Her use of "cool" and "hot" colors manages to be both powerful and decorative. I know that's where I'll be buying my next artwork. She has a website at www.edithheyck.com .
To find out more about Amesbury artists, you can visit the Studio Tour website: www.amesburystudiotour.com. It has links to all of the artists who participated. Forget the malls this season.