Saturday, April 4, 2009

Discovering 2 Naples Artists

This past weekend was the Downtown Naples Art Festival on 5th Avenue. I attended on Sunday morning, which was gray and overcast. It rained off & on all day, which was good for me (I don't mind getting wet & no crowds to fight), but not so good for the artists. One big surprise for me was running into Avner Zabari there. Avner is an amazing furniture artists, and as a sign of the times, is doing retail shows for the first time in the approximately 12 years I've known him, because gallery sales are so down.

My other big surprise was finding 2 artist, both originally from Peru now living here in Naples, completely new to me, whose work I just loved. The first was Angeli Naveros. Originally from Peru, Angeli wraps brightly colored thread around PVC pipes that she then places into large brushed stainless steel frames. From a distance, the effect is a bit like a color block image. As you get closer the texture of the threads, some of which have been frayed, comes into play. The contemporary pieces require a larger space than I currently have, but I hope to see more of Angeli's work at future shows.

My second discovery of the day was the retablos of Nicario Jimenez. All I can say is, "Wow!" In fact, I think I stopped right in the middle of the street and said that out loud. Traditionally, retablos were carried by Spanish priest in Central America as portable religious shrines. The ones you to see now a days tend to be crafted in Mexico for the tourist trade, small and not very detailed. Most of the ones I've seen have Day of the Dead themes. Nicario's are in whole other category. The figures he creates out of boiled potato and gypsum powder are intricately detailed. And there are a lot of them packed into those little boxes. Speaking of the boxes, the painting on them is wonderful. While some of his pieces have traditional themes...biblical stories, saints, Day of the Dead...others are decidedly modern, depicting everyday life and political statements. Most of Nicario's work was outside of my budget, but I did manage to get a charming mermaid ornament.
While I was in Nicario's booth I couldn't help but eavesdrop on a conversation he was having with a woman who turned out to be a teacher at a local school. The school she teaches at is in one of the poorest parts of Collier County. Most of the students are the children of farm workers. They have no funding for field trips and almost none for art supplies. Nicario offered to come to her class and teach the students about this traditional art, bringing a supply of the potato & gypsum powder mixture so that they could make their own sculptures. That gesture alone made me wish I could afford one of his pieces.

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