Winterfest continues with holiday festivities

Published on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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Blaine’s annual winter art festival continues this weekend and the next downtown in the old Goff’s store with a mind-boggling variety of hand-made creations ranging from socks to photos, pottery to hand-made brooms, acrylic art to molten glass and goat’s milk soap.

The show’s not only a great, hassle-free way to buy unique Christmas gifts, it’s a great place to just hang out and see many unique items. It’s holiday central for  downtown complete with caroling by Blaine’s outstanding high school choir, who will also gift wrap your purchases as part of their fundraising drive for their trip to Carnegie Hall next spring.

Did you know that Roger Rabbit lives in Blaine now? The angora-clad lagomorph’s hair is available at this show, as is that of his stable-mates, the 100 or so alpacas that belong to John and Kelly Wood of Wildwood Dream Alpacas and Spinnery on Sweet Road.

“I’ve had a good show so far,” said Kelly Wood, whose nimble-fingered weaving in that rich feeling alpaca yarn she raises is in great demand locally.

Another textile artist whose work is unbelievably intricate is Guo Cheng, a Chinese physician who moved here six years ago with her husband Richard Blackburn. She’s also a Taiji exercise instructor and leader, and her knitted and crocheted products have to be seen to be believed.

Photographers Kay Dee Powell of Blaine, Jeff Lindemann from Birch Bay and Matt Adair, who lives in Custer, have a corner of the show that is both colorful and rich with texture.

The two men work well together not only in displaying their well-developed work but in playing the crowd; if you missed Santa last weekend, then let these two guys brighten your holiday and help put you into a festive mood.
Powell is a retired teacher from California, a state that continues to send its best people our way. Powell said she’s happy that she now has time to develop her artistic side, primarily in photography and water color. “This is my first Winterfest,” she said, “and I’m excited.”

Three other painters lend a professional air to the show, especially when they show local scenes. D.D. Ross of Birch Bay has a variety of watercolors and acrylics in various sizes and styles all of local scenes.

The versatile Cathy Taggett, who is retired from a long career teaching art in Seattle, works in painting, collage, ceramics and fiber, and is able to convey a true northwest feeling with just a few key strokes, colors and shapes in her work, a subtlety that suggests Picasso. Her husband Ron Snyder, Blaine’s renaissance man, will also be there.
“I’ve still got some brooms left to sell,” he said.

The show goes from the merely fascinating to truly major league with the intensely colorful and carefully executed work of Blaine’s Brian Major, who works in oils and also makes his own giclee prints with the help of his wife and partner, Diane.

Brian’s painted everything from the sides of vans to special projects for the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Bellevue Art Museum and Bellevue Square, venues where people like Microsofties and others who can truly afford anything choose Major when they need to hire someone to express something artistically.

Sharon Swanson, aside from being a jolly soul, has branched out from stained glass to molten marble, and along with fellow glass artist Allie Ryser of the Glassallie Studio gives the show a sparkle that must be seen to be believed. Swanson’s training in architecture and experience as a graphic artist show in the balance and form of her work, as does Ryser’s in her glass jewelry and delicately beautiful small bottles. She’s produced some unique hand-made glass Christmas ornaments for the show and is also holding a drawing for one of her necklaces.

Retired Washington D.C. journalist Neal Engledow and his wife Ganga, a retired teacher, just arrived in Blaine last fall and this is their first Winterfest.

Along with found art creator Jim Agnello they represent the show’s woodworking section. Agnello works with material he finds on the beaches to create furniture and custom signs in a way that’s both clever and innovative.
Potters Eloise Nyman of Blaine and Andy Wollman-Simson, owner-operator with his partner Alicia of the One Heron Pond studio in Deming, present whimsical and impressive work with the feel and gravitas that can only be done in clay. Nyman, who says that “only the fun stuff goes on your table or wall,” also carves her own stamps and molds.

Sharing Nyman’s booth is aroma therapist Gwen Witter of Birch Bay, who makes soap from goat’s milk for the most unusual stocking stuffers you can find.

Rounding out the show are felt artist Donna Hunter, who makes her products using an old-world Scandinavian technique, and the versatile Donna Charbonneau, whose works include creations made from hard-shell gourds as well as turning her torch toward jewelry and metalsmithing.