Attending Alexandria's Festival of the Arts is not only a fun weekend experience but also a venture through the labyrinth of the creative art world. Throughout the weekend of Sept. 8 and 9 visitors can view, touch and experience the works of more than 200 artists from throughout the nation.
There are works in all mediums, shapes, and sizes, for all decorative or utilitarian purposes. And, the artisans are as diverse as their works. Here is a glimpse into the motivations and creativity of several of those personalities.
FAYE VANDER VEER is an accomplished artist from Virginia Beach, who specializes in oils and whose works invite the viewer to "step inside and share the experience." Inspired by the works of John Singer Sargent and a love of painting, Vander Veer says she knew at an early age that she had "a passion for interpreting the world around her through oil painting."
Constantly evolving through never ending study, Vander Veer received her formal training at The Cape Cod School of Art, the Scottsdale Art School and The Kello Academy of Traditional Oil Painting.
"Painting is something I have to do. It's constantly on my mind. Whenever I look at something, one of my first thoughts is how will that work as a painting," she said. Her works are in private and corporate collections throughout the nation and abroad.
GORDON FINE ARTS celebrates the works of artists David E. Gordon and Sue Brown Gordon of Greenfield Center, N.Y. They are a husband and wife team working in a variety of artforms with an emphasis on oils and acrylics.
David is a mater painter with a gift for color. His large paintings include such subject matter as blooming poppy fields and rows of tall trees.
Sue Brown Gordon is known both as a jewelry designer as well as a painter. She is an award-winning, nationally exhibited artist based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Jupiter, Fla., and her home state of Connecticut. Her works are created with a variety of materials ranging from 14 and 18 karat gold to fossils, twigs and shells.
CUBAN BORN MANO arrived in the United States at age 12. He became an engineer and practiced that profession for 20 years in south Florida until he finally gave in to his artistic desires.
A self-trained artist, he developed an unusual expressionist-style dominated by faces and the female form. Usually his faces serve as a point of origin for Mano to explore "the interplay of bold and contrasting colors on a myriad of surfaces."
When asked what inspires him, Mano said, "Everything — people, music, nature all lead me on journey's through the imagination where images converge and forms and colors captivate me. Observation of the mind's creation allows me to assimilate and recreate, in my own style, the shades of colors and images of form."
MICHAEL GRANT SOLOMON of Maplewood, N.J., spent 15 years fashioning mosaics out of glass to create colorful frames for windows and mirrors. Now he takes special requests for mirrors, inlaid wooden fireplace mantels, even kitchen backsplashes to embellish his customers' homes and offices.
Solomon was working in commercial printing when he started doing faux finishes on old wooden window frames as a hobby. That's when he discovered his passion for creative glass artistry and he enrolled in classes at the Corning Museum of Glass Studios in Manhattan.
"I use stained glass because I love the variety and vibrancy of the colors," he said. Transforming a hobby into a successful art career, Solomon's works now sell from $400 to $3,000 each. "When this was a hobby I used it to escape from life. Now it is my life," he said.