'Williamsburg Celebrates' artistic creation along DoG Street

hbridges@vagazette.com

Lisa Trichel-Beavers spent her Saturday rolling, smoothing, cutting slabs of clay, using the shapes to hand-build pieces of pottery.

For the Williamsburg-based potter, this likely wasn't an unusual way to spend a day.

On this day, however, her studio was a tent in the middle of Duke of Gloucester Street.

Trichel-Beavers joined more than 30 other artists from around the region in demonstrating and displaying work along DoG Street as part of the Williamsburg Celebrates Contemporary Artisans and Plein Air event on Sept. 24.

"(It's) a way to show them what you do, and what goes into doing what you do," said John Watters, who creates porcelain pottery.

In its sixth year, the event began as a way to draw more people to the area during the fall season--an idea that would eventually expand into Williamsburg Fall Arts. 

"It's such a beautiful time to be in Williamsburg," said Michele DeWitt, the city's Economic Development Director.

The city's Economic Development Authority presents the event each year in collaboration with Housing Partnerships, a nonprofit that provides home repair services to those in need. Proceeds from plein air art benefit Housing Partnerships.

Saturday's event drew a steady stream of people, tourists and locals alike.

Philip Duffy captivated a group of young children in demonstrating woodturning on his lathe.

"Most people have never seen a lathe working," said Duffy, who's worked in wood for 25 years.

A few tents over, Denis Orton shaped clay medallions later to be fired and dipped in crystalline glazes.

The Williamsburg-based artist has been a potter for more than 20 years, but he delved more recently into crystalline glazes, which he described as technically difficult and unpredictable. He enjoys the technique, though.

When you open the kiln, he said, "it's like Christmas day: you don't know what you've got in your stocking until you open it."

Several members of the Colonial Lacemakers spent the day demonstrating the intricate art of lace making.

"It becomes a puzzle," said Mary Drew. "Some people do Sudoku."

Utilizing pillows, pins and bobbins, they created various styles of lace: Italian, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire.

Lori and Peter Moritz, from Pennsylvania, happened upon the show while stopping in Merchants Square.

"I love that it's homemade," Lori Moritz said. "I'm a big homemade person."

She ended up purchasing a spoon ring from Dave Satterwhite, a Virginia Beach-based artist who cuts, bends and fuses silverware into everything from jewelry to Iron Man figurines.

Similarly, Patrick Andrews of Fredericksburg repurposes scuba tanks, fire extinguishers, car parts, books and myriad other scrap items into functional works of art.

Andrews said he's full of "crazy ideas," but in attending art shows, his creativity is sparked even more.  

"I receive just as many ideas from other customers," he said.

While the artisans spent all day along Duke of Gloucester Street, the seven plein air artists spread throughout the area to paint. Tasked with completing a painting, or paintings, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., they returned in the afternoon with canvases still wet.

Judges awarded Bob Carlson third place for his acrylic painting of the Geddy House's garden in Colonial Williamsburg.

Carlson, who lives in Toano, has participated in the Plein Air event since its start.

He usually paints in his studio, from photographs he's taken. Carlson said the fun of Williamsburg Celebrates Plein Air lies in creating outdoors.

"I love to get outside and observe the colors, observe the light and just experience it," he said.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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