Just twenty minutes west of downtown Ann Arbor is the charming town of Dexter. It’s close enough to bask in our self-styled radiance and far enough away to have its own character – easygoing, personal, historic. It has a number of art venues that are themselves reason enough to visit. My personal favorite is Artistica Fine Art and Gifts Gallery, at 3203 Broad Street. It’s owned by four local artists who showcase not only their own work, but that of more than 20 other local guest artists, filling the space with jewelry, pottery, painting, photography, mosaics, fiber arts and other media. The four proprieters, Pam O’Hara, Jamie Valen, Lisa Wandres and Anne Kornow, each have their own “private labels,” and show their work at other galleries, fairs and markets.
Pam O’Hara (Pine Hill Pottery) grew up in Cincinnati, and as a child used to gather the natural clay from the local creek bed and fashion simple figurines and inchoate objets d’art. But she washed her hands and only took up “mud” again after graduating from college. It transported her back in time and into what she realized was her calling. She has lived in Dexter for many years and has taught clay classes to both children and adults both there and in Ann Arbor. Her work has been shown in galleries throughout Michigan and Ohio, and annually at the State Street portion of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs and the Royal OakPotters Market in December.
Jamie Valen (Stone House Music and Art) made a living for years in special education, but in 2001 she retired to devote herself full-time to her art. Part of her process is to visit and revisit Italy, where she was inspired to take thousands of photographs of her favorite villages and country vistas. She goes for the mood of a scene and calls her pictures photographic impressionism. Valen was also inspired by Italy’s painted pottery and has developed her own style, painting recycled vases and tableware with dishwasher-safe permanent paints.
Lisa Wandres (Lucky Penny Mosaics) originally worked in stained glass, but gradually realized that mosaics had much more appeal to her. While on a trip to Grand Turk Island in the Caribbean to scuba dive and work on her mosaic technique, she was offered a commission by a hotel, a large circular tabletop for the lobby. It depicted various forms of sea life. She continues to broaden her mosaic horizons, but is still drawn to aquatic themes. Wandres fashions diverse materials, including tiles, stained glass and objects found in her travels around the world, into highly idiosyncratic and accessible works that can be seen at Artistica and various shops on Grand Turk.
Anne Kornow (Tadah! Jewelry — I love that name) was also a special education professional who before retiring used her creative impulse as a counterbalance to her stressful day job. She took a long series of courses in jewelry and metal working and found that she could make a wide variety of jewelry to fit a wide variety of personalities — classic, funky, feminine-dainty and more.Kornow exhibits her work at shows and art fairs throughout Southeast Michigan.
On the fourth Friday of every month, from 5-8 pm, the gallery hosts a special exhibit featuring a guest artist, replete with refreshments, hors d’oeurves and good vibes. The food is overseen by Ms. Kornow, a cooking maven who also writes the Cooking With Anne column for the Dexter Patch. On Friday, August 26, Artistica will highlight Sidney Savage and her fiber art jewelry. Since 2003 she has produced a variety of wearable art made from dominos, including necklaces, pendants, money clips and business card holders. 734.426.1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.