Now in this its 46th year, the annual Village Art & Craft Fair will return to the greens of All Souls Episcopal Church in historic Biltmore Village on Aug. 4-5.
Art and craft fairs allow art collectors to meet the artists in person — and this year artists Josh Price, Pat Bergman, and John Furches will be just a few of the artists shaking hands and selling art this year,
Though they all have their own unique story, the three artisans all love to travel and to meet new people.
At the age of 13, a Don Quixote sculpture made of nuts and bolts he found at a yard sale first inspired Price. He remembers telling his mother that he wished he could create sculptures like that, and being one to encourage her son, she declared he could do anything. He lives in central Florida, and is a self taught welder who acquired the skill restoring old cars. Price began building whimsical metal animal sculptures about 12 years ago. Last October he took a risk, and committed himself to becoming a full time craftsman. This year’s annual Village Art & Craft Fair will be Price’s first.
“Nature or an object I find ‘speaks’ to me until I make it into a sculpture,” he said. These are his muses. “Thrift stores, garage sales, dumpsters and junkyards are where I go to collect most of my materials. I usually find all kinds of unique rubbish to get my imagination going.” At craft shows, one of his favorite things is listening to people try to puzzle out what his sculptures are made from. “It’s like a game and people are always happy in my booth, I love that,” he said.
Bergman, also appearing at the art and craft fair for the first time this year, started her craft in 1979 while under the apprenticeship with an accomplished metalsmith. She crafts unique jewelry and hairpins with traditional hand tools from sterling, copper, brass and nickel silver. “Using the metal as my pallet, I draw images and designs using an oil-based pen. The metal is then immersed in an acid solution that eats into the surrounding metal, allowing the drawing to remain. The creative process continues as I cut, saw, and combine metals.” She finished her pieces with the application of a patina and protective coating.
Bergman said she has continuously learned over the nearly 40 years in her craft, so her style and systems have changed dramatically since the very start. “I will forever be my harshest critic, but from that springs motivation and always room for improvement.”
After all these years, Bergman always looks forward to the next show or craft fair for a good reason. She has encountered so many kindred spirits among the various artisans who also do the show circuit, and have become dear friends. “Our bond is understanding the struggles, challenges, and pure joys of creating our own art,” she said.
Inspiration comes to Bergman when she least expects it. “Maybe through a conversation, maybe through one of my frequent walks at my local park, or maybe just that busy brain that loves to throw out new ideas. I have enough of all to last a lifetime,” she said.
Furches has been making prints for 25 years, and has been a watercolorist for the past 35. He said he has always loved to draw so the etching process is a perfect fit for him. “The entire process intrigued me. From doing the initial drawing and transferring it to the prepared zinc plate, to the scratching of the plate, biting in acid, inking, and printing the final image. The whole process is magical.”
The time-consuming etchings don’t always come out as planned on the first attempt. He said one never knows what he’s going to get until he pulls the first print. “When it turns out just like what I had in my head it’s a great feeling. When it doesn’t, I just keep working. When I’m satisfied with the plate I print them and hand paint each one with watercolors,” he said.
An avid birder and hiker, Furches said he gets inspiration from the wildlife he encounters in its natural habitat. “I take thousands of photographs and use them to make my drawings. I’ll run out of time before I run out of ideas for etchings.”
His biggest challenge is scheduling sufficient studio time. “It’s a time consuming process, making the plates and then printing off an edition. I feel like I need to have new work not only to show the customers my latest effort, but also to hopefully increase my skill level. I try to do a lot of preliminary drawings while I’m on the road, so when I do get into the studio I know exactly how I’m going to spend my limited time there.”
Furches said he feels fortunate to make a living doing what he loves. “I try and explain to people that being an artist isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. I live it, breathe it, and even dream about it when I’m asleep.”
The Craft Fair hours are Saturday, August 4, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday Aug. 5, from noon to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.
By Mark-Ellis Bennett