Jimmy Mann isn’t exactly hurting for inspiration. The D.C. artisan’s jewelry designs range from futuristic metallic shapes to glass contorted into martini-ready green olives.
But one reason Mann looks forward to opening up shop at Art on the Avenue, Del Ray’s fall arts and music festival, is to find new motivation.
"The customers are fascinating, and always inspire me in terms of new designs," he said.
Such is the give-and-take at the annual event, where artists and art lovers converge on Mount Vernon Avenue for a day of crafts and community. The street fair brings the vibrant Alexandria art scene to the forefront, while attracting visitors from across borders.
Debra Sher, a jewelry artist from Springfield in her second year as an exhibitor, said that’s the allure of Art on the Avenue.
"I was delighted and impressed with the number of people who attended the event last year," she said. "It brought people in from all over the area — even some from Maryland."
The 11th Annual Art on the Avenue festival will be held on Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mount Vernon Avenue, from Hume Avenue to Bellefonte Avenue. The event features more than 300 artists from around the region. There are multi-cultural dining options, from Middle Eastern cuisine to pizza and crab cakes. Children’s activities and music acts are held throughout the day. There will also be the judging and awarding for the third annual Art on the Avenue Pie Baking Contest.
Musical entertainment will be held on three different stages. The Twin Stage, at the corner of Mount Vernon Ave. and East Oxford Ave., features an eclectic group of artists from Caribbean rhythms to jazz. The Homegrown Stage, at the corner of Mount Vernon Ave. and East Raymond Ave., will feature several rock and pop acts. The Acoustic Stage, on the porch of Anne Welsh Salon at 2100 Mount Vernon Ave., will feature a handful of folk and country acts.
Full information about the festival, including directions and schedules, can be found on www.artontheavenue.org.
Here are some of the artists who will be showing their wares at Art on the Avenue 2006:
Jimmy Mann was born and raised outside of Tampa, Fla. but has been making jewelry since 1989, first in New York City and then in D.C. His jewelry is created through the use of silver, brass, copper, gold, along with stained glass, fired glass, shells and fresh water pearls. "My work reflects my love of popular culture and fashion," said Mann, whose work can be viewed at www.mannmadedesigns.com.
Like many artists, Mann plans on bringing some new creations to Art on the Avenue. He said he came across an "interesting Mylar material" that he will be using in bracelets, rings, pendants and earrings, which will be cast in silver and available at the festival.
"The Mylar over the silver gives a great depth effect," said Mann.
Outside of kindergarten in Alabama, three years in Norway and college at the University of Florida, Sher is a Northern Virginia lifer. She was an avid tennis player, but a serious knee injury turned her attention elsewhere — developing a passion for creating jewelry.
Based on volume, that’s a palpable passion: Sher has created hundreds of pieces. She’s developing a Web site, www.beadsonline.biz, to expand her customer base.
In addition to the extensive collection of necklaces, bracelets and earrings she’ll be showing at Art on the Avenue, Sher said her assortment includes some items other jewelry artists don’t typically show, like beaded watches, book markers and eyeglass holders.
If his art wasn’t attention-grabbing enough, the name of Paul Bierman’s artistic venture certainly is: BoxBoy Demented Decoupage.
Bierman, a Mount Vernon-based artist, creates decoupaged art items — mostly boxes — of varying themes, selling his wares on the weekends in Arlington and D.C. Originally from Memphis, Bierman creates boxes adorned with an amazing array of images: from scary clowns to Kirk-era "Star Trek" to scenes from "The Exorcist."
His newest endeavor is a project called "DecoHeads," which Bierman describes as decoupaged wig stands. Each one has a theme — an Egyptian head called "Tut Uncommon," a skeleton theme called "Dead Head" — and some pieces from the collection can be viewed on his Web site, www.Boxboyboxes.com.
He said this is his sixth Art on the Avenue, and that it’s historically been his best show of the year. "The weather has always cooperated for the most part, and this is one of the few Saturdays a year that I pray to the weather gods to smile upon us," he said. "The event is well supported and attended, and the promoters of the event have been nothing but helpful and overly supportive."
Devon Bennett is the owner of Studio 1500 near Raleigh.
So what’s a North Carolina artist doing with an exhibit at a Del Ray festival?
"We drive 12 hours every year to attend. That says a lot," said Bennett. "I have a large customer base in Alexandria."
Bennett is a hot glass artist, making original glass beads and incorporating them into one-of-a-kind designs. "One of my beads can have up to 28 layers of glass in a single bead."
To see examples of Bennett’s work, visit www.studio1500.com.
Local artist Leah Sturgis moved to Northern Virginia from Alaska three years ago.
To coin a phrase: you can take the girl out of Alaska, but you can’t take the Alaska out of her art.
"I like to use pieces of nature, caribou antler, porcupine quills, bone, shell," said Sturgis of her jewelry.
Her art is also influenced by attending pow-wows in the Midwest, staring "at the sea of colors on the seed bead tables." Since then, Sturgis said she’s "started buying beads then and haven’t stopped."
Sturgis has immense respect for the Alexandria arts community, relishing the chance to meet artists at the Torpedo Factory and the Del Ray Artisans gallery.
Visit www.leahsturgis.com for examples of her work.
<sh>Curtis G. Woody
Prince George’s County artist Curtis G. Woody tackles one of the most time-consuming artistic methods: stippling, or the art of drawing with dots.
He keeps his pre-drawing to a minimum, just enough to get an outline of his work. Thousands of hours, millions of dots later, he creates candid portraits of human subjects. His pieces have been commissioned by everyone from libraries to General Motors.
To view some of Woody’s work, which will be on display at Art on the Avenue, visit www.curtisgwoody.com.
A retired Fairfax County Public School teacher, Audrey Stelzer and her husband Howard have been doing arts and crafts shows for the past three years. She knits and crochets; he makes jewelry — wire and stone rings, bracelets and pendants — and has been taking classes with Nick Barnes at the Torpedo Factory Annex for several years.
"One of the other students in the class told him about the
Art on the Avenue Show and gave it rave reviews," said Audrey. "We were thrilled to be invited after being juried."
She had done yarn work in her 20s, and rediscovered the craft a few years ago when she and a friend visited a yarn shop and Stelzer was dazzled by the array of modern colors and designs. Since then, she’s created scarves, ponchos, hats and baby items.
"I love to mix different colors and textures," she said.
As for Art on the Avenue, she’s looking forward to it — especially considering how popular her husband’s jewelry has proven to be.
"I've been a customer at other shows and had women buy my husband's jewelry off my neck," she said.
A photographer living in Arlington, Peter Tomlinson will sell matted and framed prints at Art on the Avenue. He specializes in nature, landscape and travel photography, having captured images from America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Tomlinson said some of the more interesting photographs in his collection are of Varanasi in India, which is on the banks of the Ganges and one of the holiest cities of the Hindus. "It is here they come to bathe in the river to purify their soul, and also where they cremate thousands of bodies every year on the steps on the edge of the river, putting the ashes into the Ganges," said Tomlinson, whose work is available on www.photosbypjt.com.
He believes this will be his fourth Art on the Avenue.
"I find it a venue where people are looking for art, and I have always found Alexandria a very good area for me to sell my photos," he said.
This is Cara Jablon’s first time participating in Art on the Avenue, although she has been creating her art professionally for seven years.
The lawyer-turned-jewelry designer creates hand-made necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and eyeglass holder chains. She also features a collection of versatile lariats, which can be worn long or short.
Visit Cara’s Creations at www.carascreationsdc.com for more on this D.C.-based artist and her work.
Known for his company’s quirky and hilarious screenprinted T-shirts, John Nickerson of Gnarly Artly recently helped in a public art project for the University of Maryland. He was one of around 60 artists selected to design and sculpt a statue of Testudo, the school’s terrapin mascot. He opted to create a "farmer turtle" titled "Outstanding in His Field."
The Thurmont, Md. resident is heading to his fourth Art on the Avenue, selling an array of clothing for men, women and children. He said he’s designed a bunch of new T-shirts for the festival, including a tribute to Thelonious Monk and several politically oriented shirts for the upcoming election season.
"My wife and I always have a blast attending this show. It's very well run and the organizers and volunteers are top notch. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones and cracking people up with my art," he said.
Examples of that art can be found at www.gnarlyartly.com.
A full-time employee of the University of Maryland-College Park, Paulette Godin isn’t a full-time craftsman but has been a steady learner since the early 1970s through various classes and lessons. Her daughter, Liz Martinez, lives in Del Ray and invited her to join the Del Ray Artisans several years ago.
This is her second Art on the Avenue, and she said taking part in the art community’s events is wonderful.
"I will be displaying utilitarian items such as fabric table accessories and crocheted sweaters, of my own design, for children and adults, plus hats, and shawls," she said.
Coming all the way from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Annie Hynes creates "the modern locket," a small hand-cut frame worn as a pin, pendant or bracelet. They are sold in more than 70 stores across the country. Hynes art can be viewed on the Over the Moon Designs Web site, www.overthemoondesigns.net.
There are three reasons Hynes said she’s been attending Art on the Avenue since its inception: Del Ray’s great food and people, the support of the arts community in Alexandria, and the fact that the festival is a sort of homecoming for her favorite people in the arts.
"[Art on the Avenue chair] Pat Miller and her people do a phenomenal job and the show gets better every year," said Hynes.