Artists, Artisans, Bring Their Best to Syracuse's People

Jul 30, 2014

North McNulty, one of the owners of Twin Oaks Hammocks of VA
North McNulty, one of the owners of Twin Oaks Hammocks of VA
Credit Mark Bialczak
  A walk through the downtown Syracuse streets surrendered to the Syracuse Arts and Crafts Fair opens your eyes to artists and artisans of many varieties.

My dear wife Karen and I looped Columbus Circle and darted off in the blocks that feed off from that towering monument and the Cathedral to take a better look at the paintings and photographs and pottery and many cool things from what appeared to be most all of the other letters of the alphabet, too.

Chris Clemens, owner of Roaring Dog of Syracuse
Chris Clemens, owner of Roaring Dog of Syracuse
Credit Mark Bialczak

The sheer numbers of the event, as publicized by the Downtown Committee of Syracuse on its web site, are impressive: More than 160 artists bring out the goods. They represent 30 states and Canada. More than 50,000 visitors were expected for the event. This was the 44th year for the event.

What's more impressive to me, though, is what you can see.

I am not a connoisseur of fine art, nor ceramics, nor wood-working, nor glass-blowing ...

I do consider myself a pretty good judge of photography after 30-plus years of working on the producing side of the print pages of the big daily and then learning more every day by snapping pictures for this weekly blog and my daily posts on markbialczak.com. Yet there are photojournalists out there who might fall on both sides of that argument, too. I do digress ...

Nancy Wasserman, owner of Glitzy Glass of Maryland, left, with Karen Miller Bialczak
Nancy Wasserman, owner of Glitzy Glass of Maryland, left, with Karen Miller Bialczak
Credit Mark Bialczak
But across the board as we walked the rows and looked inside those white tents, I thought, I do know what I like.

The first item that smacked me aside my head was a collection of colorful hammocks, from Twin Oaks Hammocks. Stacked on top of each other and swinging in the breeze, they looked peaceful, easy as Sunday morning.

North McNulty, one of the people who weaved them from rope stood smiling next to the big exhibit, eager to pose for a photo and hand me a pamphlet that explained the company that's owned by its workers and the process. It provided a phone number of 800-688-8946 and site address of TwinOaksHammocks.com in case you think they look intriguing, too.

Karen's eyes were caught by the Glitzy Glass booth. 

Nancy Wasserman makes the etched crystal glass nail files in Maryland with material from the Czech Republic.

She stood with Karen and talked about how durable and forever they would be, and how it's a good idea to keep a few around the house in case a friend drops by with an unexpected gift. My dear wife smiled.

The web site is glitzy-glass.com.

Next we both were pulled in at the same time by this woodworking credo:

"The Inner Bark Howls In Us All."

Roaring Dog Studios, or the Inner Bark, if you prefer, was born and bred right here in Syracuse, with permanent digs at 124 Burnet Ave. Chris Clemans is the main man, and he has a team to put together pieces from wood, iron and, he likes to say, his imagination.

The walls of his white tent backed that up.

The site is roaringdog.com.

On one of the spurs, a collection of eyeglass frames caught our eye. Had to say it. A man and woman were quick to wave us over and declare that they'd come up from New Jersey to sell the frames with reading glass lenses installed inside. It was obvious the frames were original and little pieces of art all upon themselves.

Dean White of Deansboro has been a potter and artist for just shy of 40 years.
Dean White of Deansboro has been a potter and artist for just shy of 40 years.
Credit Mark Bialczak

When I pulled out my iPhone 4 to take a shot of the booth, the gentleman said, "No pictures."

So I said, "OK, thank you, then I will not be giving your collection exposure on my blog."

I was surprised at that request, I must admit. I shouldn't have been. At the very next booth, a paint artist barked the phrase at me as an order, far less politely, and somewhat threateningly. And so I thought: These folks are protecting there creative output and financial livelihoods the best way they know how.

Later, I saw the man and woman at the Blue Rain Ecofest in Hanover Square, standing in line at the tamale stand, so I smiled and said hello. At home, I researched the matter, and folks from New Jersey who make those neat eyeglass frames have the site olefsonartopticals.com.

Another artist happy to have his picture taken with his work was Dean White.

The Deansboro proprietor of White's Pottery says he's coming up on his 40th anniversary of producing his ceramic ware. His booth was full of fine looking urns and vessels.

His card calls him a potter and artist, and I totally agree. His site is whitespottery.com.