Art for Sale

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By The Staff

The 41st Annual Spring Arts and Crafts Fair will be a homecoming for John Trujillo. The jewelry-maker grew up in Los Alamos and graduated from Los Alamos High Sschool in 1966. The community holds another significance other than childhood memories. It inspired him to do jewelry.

Trujillo said his high school art teacher taught him to make jewelry, although it didn’t impact him until later.

It will be his first time at the arts and craft fair, Trujillo said. “I just thought it would be a good venue for me.” He started making jewelry in 1974 and gained the attention of some big names. While working as an actor in Los Angeles, his creations have been bought by celebrities such as James Brown, Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Diane Lane, Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Sinatra.

Trujillo joked that sometimes he made more money from his jewelry sales than from acting gigs. His jewelry has appeared in Rock and Gems Magazine and People magazine.

“I just enjoy doing what I do,” he said. “I work at it seven days a week.”

Trujillo will not be the only newcomer to the fair; Shari Kesenbaum will also be making her debut at the fair. Kesenbaum said she explores a wide range of art forms. She produces oil and acrylic paintings, designs jewelry with semi-precious and precious stones and paints wildlife on drums.

New Mexico has served as inspiration for her artwork. “It’s just beautiful,” she said. “Absolutely beautiful.”

She explained she decided to attend the fair at another artist’s recommendation. Additionally, it is an opportunity to “get my art out there.”

One returning artist is Carol Hogsett a local El Rancho artist affectionately called the “Gourd Lady.”

Although gourds are one of the oldest art forms around, it only started two years ago for Hogsett. After growing a crop of gourds in her garden, she said she decided to see what they looked like decorated. She said she was hooked and has explored new ways to embellish the gourds ever since. Acrylic paints, stain, weaving carving, feathers and wood burning are some of the techniques she uses. Hogsett’s array of gourds for the spring craft show will include gourd flowers, birdhouses and bird feeders, decorative centerpieces and many other lovely creations from the all-natural gourd.

Michelle Stump, a resident of Los Alamos, E-Commerce entrepreneur, poet and artist has created a fine arts publishing company, Harp of the Spirit. She created her first greeting card in January 2004 for a friend, who is the mother of a little girl who loves to dance.

That greeting card celebrates the spirit of the dance and Imaging Professional of the Southwest awarded it honorable mention in the portraiture category at a juried show sponsored by Imaging Professionals of the Southwest. All of her cards are designed from her own photographs. Many depict scenes of the nature and landscape of New Mexico.

Harp of the Spirit products can be purchased at many places in Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque and an ever-growing number of stores outside of New Mexico.

Elizabeth Sahd said she has loved creating crafts as far back as she can remember, specifically Western or Cowboy crafts. She is a self-taught crafter who has learned by mistakes.

Typically, she said she will see something she likes and say, “I can make that.” She has dabbled around with wood burnings, to making jackets out of saddle blankets, jewelry, to dried flower arrangements. Many of these items are for her own use and she still has a few of them. In 1998, a friend who Team Ropes, gave her a basket made from his used lariats.

It sat in her greenhouse for years with a plant in it and one day, while on maternity leave, she sat in a chair next to this basket and glanced over and thought, “I can do that.” That week she went to the local feed store and bought 10 used ropes. Many items such as mirrors, clocks and lamps have since been added to her creations and she has enjoyed making all of them.

Sahd said she loves participating in arts and craft shows to see the variety of beautiful handcrafted items. Since crafting full time, she has a new appreciation for the uniqueness of each item. Just like fingerprints, no two are alike.

To make her items she uses a soldering iron to melt the rope together and create various shapes. The colors are from dye and she will either dye the rope before or after making a piece, depending on the size and shape. Conchos, feathers, antlers, or carved fetishes are then added to create the finishing touches. She places a sheet of foam backing on the underside to prevent any scratching on furniture.

Her family has recently moved to Black Lake, in northern New Mexico where she raises four children and makes her crafts. Her dream, Sahd said, is to eventually open a small studio where she can work and have customers stop in for a look.

The fair, hosted by the Los Alamos Arts Council, will be held from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. May 3, on the lawn of Fuller Lodge.

This year’s fair will fill the lawn with more than 115 artisans from across the state selling their handcrafted works of art. The fair is one of the first of the season. The full range of arts and crafts will be represented including pottery, sculpture, beadwork, weaving, clothing, woodworking, painting and jewelry.

This year Mother’s Day falls a week after the fair, so customers will have the opportunity to purchase that special gift.

The fair will showcase both contemporary and traditional art forms. To be accepted, entries must be made by the artist and have originated in New Mexico.

The Spring Arts and Crafts Fair is a major fundraising event for the Los Alamos Arts Council. Proceeds from booth rental fees are used to present cultural programs throughout the year.

In the past year, the nonprofit council has presented more than 50 arts-related programs, which include an annual Art/Flight Kite Festival, Missoula Children’s Theater, and noontime Brown Bag performances at Fuller Lodge. Seasonal celebrations such as the Los Alamos Pumpkin Glow and Scarecrow Contest, Senior Recitals, evening musical performances and monthly film screenings are offered in collaboration with UNM-LA. Anyone wishing to directly support the Los Alamos Arts Council by becoming a member (individual memberships are $15) is invited to drop by the information booth during the arts and crafts fair or call 663-0477 for more information.