Starting today, more than 30 Colorado artists will be displaying their work at the Meet the Artists Art Fair at the Frisco Historic Park on Main Street.
The inaugural festival also features a Colorado Live Music Showcase on Sunday, where musicians from Summit County and the Front Range will provide euphonic accompaniment as festivalgoers browse art works ranging from jewelry and textiles to photography, paintings, pottery and other mediums.
Frisco artist Diane Harty Schlaefer has been making hats for almost 15 years and will be bringing some of her pieces to the art fair this weekend.
“I do each one myself, and most of them are constructed from strands of braids — straw braids — so I sew each one on an old antique chain stitch,” she said. “I sew each hat, and as I sew it together, I’m creating it and each hat is like a sculpture for me. I’m shaping it and building it from just a strip 5 millimeters or 12 millimeters wide with different straw fibers.”
Schlaefer picked up her chain-stitch machine in the New York garment district. The machine is one that was used in the millinery, or hat-making, industry.
“They stopped making them in 1950s,” Schlaefer said of the machine. “It’s got attachments set up to do different types of braid. That’s all it does is make hats.”
She took the machine home and figured it out, having never studied textiles.
“After college, I started making things out of old fabric I had,” she said. “I started out making cloth hats and evolved into making the straw braid, which took off for me about 14 years ago.”
Though the hats are sculptural pieces of art, Schlaefer said they aren’t just for hanging on a wall.
“I hope people would wear them as much as possible,” she said. “I make anything from straw caps and sun hats to really fancy cocktail hats and peacocks.”
Schlaefer said she is looking forward to doing a local fair, as her art typically takes her to shows all over the country.
“It’s really nice to be able to have people here see what I do, and it’s so convenient — I don’t have to travel more than six blocks,” she said. “It’s fun to be part of the local art community because I don’t get a chance to do that a lot here; my schedule is pretty busy traveling.”
For more information on Schlaefer, or to view her work, visit http://dianeharty.com.
Colorful flower fields
Bailey artist Barbara Beals finds inspiration for her art closer to the ground. She picks and presses real flowers to create unique and vivid landscapes and floral arrangements.
“I started pressing flowers in 1984 when my husband gave me a flower press as a gift,” she said. “I started gathering flowers for about 2½ years, and I thought, ‘What do I do with all these flowers?’”
Beals took the flowers she had collected and pressed from camping trips and mountain outings and began making her three-dimensional artwork. The artist’s mother-in-law challenged her to identify each flower she picked, so Beals bought a book about wildflowers and began learning all of the names.
“I opened a small business in 1989 making pieces with flowers, leaves and grasses and getting other people into it,” she said. “It was so much fun to gather the flowers.”
When Beals first started her company, Blossoms of the Rockies Inc., she would acquire a permit to pick flowers on the flat tops above Carbondale for $15 a year. She now grows most of her own flowers on her two-acre property.
“Flowers are my love; we now grow about 90 percent of the flowers we use in our garden and in Bailey,” she said. “We just keep getting better and better and better; I’ve gotten to the point that I can see a picture in nature in my mind and I don’t need a photograph.”
Beals chose to participate in the Meet the Artists event in Frisco because mountain towns seem to embrace her art more readily than the cities. She also might do some collecting while she’s in town.
“Right now is the time of year that I would gather green aspen leaves so that I would have green, red and gold of the aspen leaves,” she said. “Last year, I grew enough flowers of one variety to last me four or five years, so I’m doing different varieties every year.”
Because Beals has been growing, collecting and pressing flowers for her pieces for so long, she has a huge variety of flowers to choose from. Every weekend, she goes to work somewhere beautiful, she said, whether it’s alpine meadows in the summer or locations around Texas, Arizona or Oklahoma in the winter.
“If you have to work, you might as well enjoy it and be in a beautiful, beautiful place,” Beals said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
For more information on Beals, or to view her work, visit www.coblossoms.com.