Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 14, 2015

Buy Local

Paradise City Arts Festival
3 County Fairgrounds, Northampton, MA
May 23 - 25, 2015
by Shera Cohen

As I looked on my calendar this week, I realized that it was the time of year for my bi-annual Paradise City article. Hmm, what to write? There has been the overall preview, the interview with co-producer Linda Post, and several one-on-one pieces on artists. Jewelry, pottery, furniture, clothing, paintings -- I have probably penned an article from each genre.

When stumped for an idea (writing or otherwise), my usual “go to” spot is CVS. It’s probably during the walk to the store and back, more than the final destination, when I become inspired. I always take pen and paper with me on my very short journey.

Returning to my condo, I purposely looked around the rooms as if I had never seen the site before, remembering that Mother’s Day, 25-years ago, was my moving day. One of many thoughts at the time was, “How am I ever going to fill all of this wall space?” Little did I know that Paradise City would help me enormously in answering my space question.

While my home is rather small, through the years, I have acquired and displayed approximately 60 pieces of art. Those object not currently on the walls are in my attic storeroom. Every two years or so, I move things around, add and subtract. It’s fun and gives me new images to look at, even if they aren’t really new.

How did I know the number was 60? I literally walked from room to room, counting. Among the pastels, acrylics, line drawings, wall hangings, mirrors, and photography were 39 original works, most of which were created by local artists. Among the 39, I had purchased 19 at Paradise City.

Given a choice and the same spending cap, I always choose original art over copies. Extra points in my purchasing decisions go to living artists and/or those who live locally; i.e.Pioneer Valley, The Berkshires, Northern CT.

Sure, I have some prints on the walls, mostly Mary Casatte, Boulonge, and flowers. They are all beautiful, and a lot less expensive than the originals, of course.

I usually attend Paradise City, comparing it to a window shopping venture coupled with a browse through several art galleries and museums. I never go with a “what to buy” check list. In fact, I do not recommend that -- keep your eyes and other senses open to all that fills Paradise City.

I am proud that I have purchased 19 pieces for myself, and I am not even counting the numerous gifts for others. It is generally difficult to buy art for someone else’s taste. However, I make exceptions during my visits to Paradise City. Either I have picked the perfect work or the recipient is a perfect actor, effusively praising both me and the art.