Fall Marlborough • Directors’ Picks

The Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough, Massachusetts showcases 175 of the “best-of-the-best” of America’s most exciting independent artists, designers and master craft makers. This November, dozens of remarkable artists were selected to exhibit here for the very first time. 

The brand-new exhibitors in this show selected for the Directors’ Picks are four intriguing new artists, all of whom deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Meet a painter of rainy days from Rhode Island, a prominent jeweler from Massachusetts, a true artist of woodworking from New Hampshire, and a designer of show-stopping wearable art coming all the way from Germany. They all look forward to exhibiting in Marlborough, November 18, 19 & 20, at the Royal Plaza Trade Center.

In her studio in Worpswede, Germany, Sabine Wagner designs lively, one-of-a-kind clothes and accessories. Working with clear contours, fresh shapes, and color contrasts, she can turn a scarf, vest, or tunic into a fashion statement. Her creations can be worn and combined in numerous ways. “There are no limits to the imagination,” says Wagner. “The basic evening dress as well as the everyday wardrobe can be transformed into a completely new, elegant look.” 

Wagner is skilled in traditional tailoring, but her highly creative patterning and sewing techniques have resulted in a wonderful bonus. Without the use of any reinforcements, even the gowns retain their shape after being transported in a suitcase! She often starts with black. “I like to work with sharp contrasts. Black imparts a special brilliance to the colors and makes them glow.” Unique and timeless, made from beautiful fabrics, her designs are fun and comfortable to wear. A new international exhibitor at Paradise City, Wagner enthuses, “I would love to show you how to put together and wear ensembles!” 

Without close observation, you might never know this is wood. Donna Zils Banfield starts with hand-picked logs. A sawmill cuts the logs into manageable sizes, lengths, and weight. Once inside her studio, she uses a lathe to create the form. This is the wood canvas upon which she cuts, carves, textures, pyro-engraves and paints. No longer just a piece of wood, the final object has taken on an extraordinary new identity.

Banfield came to her artistry in wood along an unexpected path. A lawyer until her husband gifted her with a lathe and tools, she gave up her practice two years later for a life in the arts and never looked back. “I live a life less ordinary, as do the trees with which I began,” says Banfield. “Most of the wood that I harvest comes from trees that have fallen during storms or were subject to insect damage or urban development. I take what would have been the end of a majestic life in its natural state and give it new life – a life less ordinary.” Banfield lives in New Hampshire and her work can be found in public and private collections in Australia, India, Taiwan and throughout the United States. 

Linda Kindler-Priest creates small sculptures of gold and stones that are meant to be collected, worn, and admired. This Massachusetts jeweler has a national reputation and following, with pieces in museum collections and exhibitions, features in magazines and inclusion in many books on the art of jewelry. 

Familiar birds and animals – a heron, a rabbit, a bear, and particularly a member of any endangered species – all serve as inspiration. Capturing the essence of each living being, Kindler-Priest sculpts directly into precious metal using an ancient technique called repoussé. Every millimeter of the metal surface has been intensely hammered, worked, and reworked. Kindler-Priest explains, “Embedding personality into my pieces, implying emotion such as happiness or being scared is a challenge in small scale. It requires a steady hand and small tools.” She studied lapidary to be able to combine her animal imagery with the perfect integration of gemstones into her designs. Her wearable sculptures, whether brooches, pendants, or earrings, are a harmonious balance of imagery, materials, color, and form.

Rachel Brask calls herself “a painter of rainy days.” An abstract expressionist oil painter with impressionist tendencies, her current work explores the sensation of looking through windows during a torrential rain, observing the texture and blurring colors distorted by the rain as it drips down a windowpane. Her paintings focused on rain have resulted in a number of awards and art residencies. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group gallery shows throughout New England – with one exhibit, La Pioggia dei Colori (The Rains of Colors), at Galeria Villa Comunale di Frosinone in Italy.

Brask begins all of her paintings with a pointillism-inspired composition of colors, painting thick dots of color all over the canvas. Using stand oil the texture of honey, she smears all the dots on the canvas from the top to the bottom, dragging the colors together as the brush descends the canvas, blending paint as the drips continue to “rain” down the canvas. She says, “After I go to sleep for the night, gravity continues its collaboration on the painting, and often I’ll awaken to respond to a very different painting than the day before!” The rain motion continues to move for the next day or two, and she revisits the canvas every few hours to respond to new drips. She lives in Rhode Island.