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Paradise City Arts Festival returns this weekend

  • “Zebra” by Patricia Belanger can be seen at Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton this weekend. Contributed photo

  • Maya Machin of Franklin County will be at Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton this weekend. Contributed photo



For The Recorder
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memorial Day weekend in the Pioneer Valley means a few different things: the unofficial start of summer, the beginning of barbecue season, and the return of the Paradise City Arts Festival, also known as the “Springtime in Paradise” arts festival.

The three-day arts extravaganza, now in its 23rd season, comes to the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton May 27 through 29, bringing 250 artists and craftspeople from 21 states — including Massachusetts — who work in a wide range of mediums from decorative arts and sculpture to mixed media and fine furniture.

Along with the art comes plenty of musical entertainment, food, demonstrations and lectures — “smARTtalk — on a host of related topics.

Paradise City has been called “a Mecca for art lovers” and “wild and wonderful.”

Longtime festival director Linda Post says Paradise City is dedicated to featuring independent artists and craftspeople and giving them a forum where they can meet one-on-one with visitors and customers.

“People are looking for the personal touch, the conversations with artists that are a vital part of what makes festivals like Paradise City valuable to the arts community,” she said.

The festival also likes to bring new features to its regular lineup each year, and this is no different — this year, it comes in the form of “Birds of Paradise,” an exhibition located in Building 2 at the fairgrounds, where artists celebrate winged creatures in multiple mediums, including jewelry, ceramics, glass, painting, sculpture and more.

The tribute to our feathered friends sees birds as symbols of freedom, rising above the mundane as they soar toward the future, according to Paradise City organizers. It’s hard to think of any civilization that hasn’t used bird imagery to define some aspect of its cultural and spiritual identity.

You’ll see eagles, hawks, chickens, blackbirds and more represented in art.

Paradise City artists will take fest goers on a flight of fancy in paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, fashion, glass and more.

Among some three dozen local artists whose work will be at the festival, metal sculptor and furniture maker Matthew Johnson of Easthampton has created what might be the ultimate chessboard, “Titanomachy,” with outsize metal pieces based on ancient Greek gods and monsters.

For last year’s arts fest, Johnson created another massive chess set that pitted figurines from ancient Greece and Rome versus armored medieval warriors.

The Paradise City Arts Festival will be held rain or shine at the Three County Fairgrounds. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day).

Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $8 for students; a three-day pass is $16, and admission is free for ages 12 and younger. Group discounts are available online, and parking if free.

Other features include live music, a festival dining tent, a silent art action to benefit the International Language Institute of Massachusetts and more.

For more information, call 800-511-9725 or visit:
www.paradisecityarts.com