Monday, October 9, 2017

TREASURE AT ARTISAN DEPOT

Autumn Glow
Some days when we go down to the Valley at Cowan, Tennessee, we wander into the Artisan Depot, an art cooperative sponsored by the Franklin County Art Guild, and Saturday we ignored the rain to make a trip to Cowan where we discovered an artist whose eclectic work warranted a “shout out” in today’s blog. 

Frances Perea, a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, migrated to Winchester, Tennessee almost twenty years ago and brought with her a talent reminiscent of Frida Kahlo. She tells most people who drop in at the small Cowan gallery that the famous Mexican artist is her “Muse,” and in 2012 she established a Frida Kahlo Fan Club. Saturday, Perea appeared with a small tray of cinnamon rolls to feed drop-ins and showed us the display of her work that includes full-size paintings and boxes of mythical cards which intrigued me. 

In her work, Perea mixes religion with fantastical elements from pre-Columbian and Roman Catholic mythology. After moving to San Jose, California, Perea studied art at San Jose City College and painted her eclectic designs on pottery and furniture, then began painting New Mexico religious icons. Although she sometimes refers to her work as “quirky,” it has gained noteworthy recognition through sales of a line of prints, ornaments, and New Mexico icons to the International Folk Art Museum and The Smithsonian Institute.

House Guardian
I was taken with Perea’s trays of cards and settled on one entitled “House Guardian” featuring an angel surrounded by a floral design; it will join the mezuzah in our kitchen that watches over our cottage here at Sewanee. I also selected a beautiful landscape card featuring a tree with flame-colored leaves entitled “Autumn Glow” and would have purchased more if I had had my checkbook with me. 

Perea also teaches art workshops at the Artisan Depot and encouraged me to introduce the idea of poetry readings on the stage of this art gallery. She left before I could interview her further, but I hope to return for a second look at the folk art of this talented Tennessee artist, perhaps to buy more take-home treasure. 

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