Artist Spotlight: Valeri Darling and Darling Art by Valeri

Although Valeri has been selling her art for over 35 years, her turn to reclaimed materials started only a few years ago. She had been unemployed for a while and her desire to make art had not diminished but her budget for supplies had.  Most of us can recognize that  frustration, By changing her point of view, suddenly TP rolls, junk jewelry, cereal boxes and things most people throw in the garbage become objects of interest. Valeri Darling Artwork-Vintage Canvas - Darling Art By Valeri - Valeri Darling

Learning how to work with all these pieces of “trash” became part of the challenge to get people to change from rolling their eyes to a stunned  “One person’s junk IS another person’s  treasure”  recognition of a truth. dragonfly Journal - Darling Art By Valeri - Valeri Darling

Valeri’s designs are quirky, sophisticated and whimsical. Each of her pieces are made of many things, repurposed items, scraps of old metal, broken jewelry and so much more. “Bringing back to life the old, worn out and discarded, is what makes it all worth while.”Rock Out Guitar - Darling Art By Valeri - Valeri Darling

Valeri Darling and Darling Art By Valeri will be at Tables #9 & 10.


Artist Spotlight: Kathy Benitez and Alaska Sea Glass Art

Archaelogists LOVE trash. By looking at an ancient civilization’s midden piles, scientists can tell us a lot about the food people ate, the illnesses they had, the kinds of materials they used in their everyday life…and so much more.

Kathy Benitez found more than she expected when she visited her daughter last summer in the remote Alaskan village.  “When it was time to leave, the bush plane was delayed by five days for a variety of reasons. It was during this time I started to enjoy beachcombing and picking up the beautiful sea glass.” DSC01463 - Kathy Benitez

Kathy learned that the sea glass was discarded into the ocean over 100 years ago by people departing steamboats and starting their trek up the Yukon for a hopeful fortune in gold. KB2

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the glass at the time, but sent it home and learned how to make wall hangings and jewelry.  I love working with sea glass because it has a story. The ocean has turned trash into something beautiful with gem-like qualities and reminds people of the power and beauty of the ocean.”KB.jpg

Kathy Benitez and Alaska Sea Glass Art is located at Table #4.

Artist Spotlight: Janet Ronacher and Fiber Design By Janet

Sometimes something completely unexpected causes a life path to take a slight turn in a direction previously unexplored.  Janet Ronacher explains, “I began fusing plastic bags in my artwork after reading that the Hurricane in Haiti destroyed the dwellings of residents.  The monsoon rains that continued after the Hurricane horrified a Bend woman who decided to get her friends together to iron 10’ x 10’ tarps to give the Haitians some shelter.  I have never met the woman but I was so impressed with her can-do spirit as she sent many tarps to Haiti.”

And so, a seed was planted and Janet started to explore this new concept. After thinking about the woman in Bend and dreaming about the possibilities Janet started experimenting with small bags.  That included layering bags, ironing them
together until she had roughly a 12” x 24” piece of plastic that she could cut into strips and weave as baskets. C870E4A5-C23F-4414-8FD8-E8ABFFBEB9EF - Janet Ronacher

“I was surprised that the bags I had were not  enough to really work as I thought they should.  So I asked friends and neighbors for any bags they thought were bright and colorful for me to try.  I was shocked at the number of folks who were delighted to have a use for the bags.  That one basket the size of a 6” x 6” box used over thirty bags. It was difficult to count the bags and keep ironing and then weaving so I never counted again.”AFA5D070-9C87-4D32-957E-46063B6C56D9 - Janet Ronacher

(The difference between Janet and me (and maybe many of you) is that her work is art. Mine, at best, would be “craft”. This is a good time to explain that the jury process was used to separate out the work of people who, while done well, just did not reach that level of art we hoped to introduce to the public. Janet’s ability to take one of the biggest contributors to an environmental mess on our planet and produce something attractive and even functional is a talent that many do not have.)03B65C2A-E731-4A0D-9547-425A833F8C59 - Janet Ronacher (1)

“I feel good about using reclaimed materials as my medium since it is so plentiful and I feel compelled to keep as much as possible out of the oceans, waterways and food supplies of animals and humans.  I have read that plastic never really goes away and that it has a half life of over 400 years. Yes I might run out of materials eventually and my work will someday become waste also.  In the meantime I will continue to save the environment one bag at a time until scientists and engineers find a better alternative.”3542AE58-7144-4295-9F32-EFBB90327938 - Janet RonacherJanet Ronacher and Fiber Design By Janet will be located at Booth #31.