Thursday, January 29, 2009

More New York - On the Heel Toe Express

After I arrived in NY I took a cab to the Chelsea Market then walked back & forth between 9th & 10th going to all the galleries from 19th street to 29th street.

There about 200 galleries in these few blocks. I realize they are in a whole different world than New Bern, NC - all the spaces were great but I wondered how many of them paid the rent.

Some had 5 pieces, not very big, in the entire gallery and there were lots of photographs, which we have a hard time selling.

However there were a few pieces I thought were really great like Jane Dicksons work at marlborough Gallery, 545 West 25 Street.


These pieces are oil paintings on astroturf.

"Having previously worked on sandpaper, carpet, and more conventional surfaces, Dickson selects her materials both for the surprising pleasure of their tactile qualities and for their relevance to the subject.
Stephen Westfall, in his essay for the exhibition catalogue, comments on Dickson’s use of materials: “For several years now Dickson has been painting on astroturf, the artificial grass that comes in a variety of colors ranging from lawn green, to gravel and swimming pool blue. The paint goes on in a particalized scumble, with each blade of plastic grass holding its individual daub like a pointillist touch from the brush.

The packed blades of the cropped pile of the astroturf carpets backlight the color with their shadowed depth, creating an enhanced luminosity.
In lesser hands the effect might openly invoke kitsch, like a Seurat painting on velvet. But the shadows and specificity of the astroturf’s various colored grounds seem absolutely right for the hour and scenes Dickson is painting – that early twilight when shadows seem to rise like a mist from under things and lights go on. Details are erased; buildings, cars and bridges are reduced to their geometric essences, and even these soften at their edges."
But the piece that really moved me and I loved was Susanna Hellers piece at the Magnan Projects Gallery at 317 Tenth Avenue. This piece is a 23 feet wide panorama painting called 'the heel-toe express'; all about walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

It just happened that she came in about the same time I did and was talking to a fellow walker about her painting and the best places to walk in the city.

I LOVE this painting!

I listened in on her telling about the painting, lets see if I get it right. Her studio is in Brooklyn and she regularly walks to the Magnan Projects Gallery, it takes her about a hour and 15 minutes to get there.

So this is a painting reflecting her walks, not just walking along and looking straight, but looking up and down, to the left and right and putting her impression on canvas. Part of it is her impression of a row of really beautiful brick warehouses that they were trying to get historical designation. When no one was looking the mayor swooped in the tore them down, then there was a fire. The community was devistated at the loss.

The painting reflects all this, very moving.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New York

I just returned from a trip to New York City where I met with some of the artists whose work we carry and also met some new ones. We'll be getting some of their work for the gallery, to be arriving over the next few months.

It was windy and very cold but I had a great time. Not only meeting with our artist friends but also with friends that have galleries in Saugatuck, MI, Houston, TX, Reston, VA, and Denver, CO. We compared notes, shared information about artists and gave each other ideas.

To start I flew into Newark and took the AirTrain to NJ Transit and caught the train to Penn Station. I was surprised at how nice and easy it was. At Penn Station I was entranced by a kinetic sculpture called "New Jersey On Parade" by George Greenamyer. It was great and wish I had time to stand there and watch it longer.

Here are a few not very good photos.

This is George's description of it. "Some of New Jersey's many historical, mythological and present-day images are incorporated into this multi-level, kinetic sculptural installation in the heart of the renovated NJ TRANSIT station. The centerpiece is a 9 foot long NJ TRANSIT electric locomotive with a 3 foot tall engineer.

Penn Station, New York, New York, commissioned by NJ TRANSIT with assistance from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, forged fabricated painted steel, overall H.12' x L.72' x W.20'.

Turns out he also did the "First in Flight" sculpture that is in the Charlotte airport.

I met some new craftspeople a very famous weaver from India who is making some silk scarves for us. We try to carry mostly American made products but we realize that artists are artists no matter where they live so occasionally we will have work from artists from other countries.

We also met with people that belong to the Fair Trade Federation. What they do - artists from the US design products then work with people in other countries to produce their products "building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty". We will be getting some products from them like some recycled tote bags made from recycled rice and feed bags, they're very cool.

We will have envirsax which are reusable shopping bags that roll up very small so you can carry them in your purse, save a tree! Other "green" items we found are very cute baby hats and bibs made from organic cotton and baskets made from recycled chopsticks both made in the USA.

As these items come in we'll let you know!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All About Pearls

What is a cultured pearl?
A cultured pearl is a real pearl, made from the same substance as a natural pearl. The difference: Cultured pearls get their start with a little nudge. Rather than waiting for nature to take its course, man deliberately places an irritant—a mother-of-pearl bead is often used—in the mollusk to stimulate the secretion of aragonite (calcium carbonate) and conchiolin. These substances, when layered around the irritant, form a pearl. Today, cultured pearls can rival the beauty of natural pearls; indeed it can be very difficult to tell them apart.

What is a freshwater pearl?
A freshwater pearl is a pearl that has been formed in a freshwater mollusk, rather than an oyster that lives in the sea. Typically, people think freshwater pearls are rice-shaped, but in fact they come in all shapes, including round. Like marine pearls, round freshwater pearls are the rarest, most desirable and most valuable shape. It is difficult to find perfectly round pearls of similar size and color to match for a strand, which is why matched strands are more expensive than other types of pearl jewelry. Unlike oysters, freshwater mollusks can produce more than one pearl at a time, but the process is still at Mother Nature's mercy. Out of the thousands of animals that are implanted with irritants, it is still rare to get a commercially acceptable pearl.

How do I care for my pearls?
Given some simple care, pearls can last for generations. Although they have a low hardness compared to other gems, the density of pearls makes them surprisingly durable. But pearls are perishable. Substances like perfume, vinegar, hairspray, inks, and perspiration can damage the nacre, as can chlorine. It is best to remove pearl jewelry before swimming and showering, and to put pearls on only after makeup, perfume and hairspray have been applied. Unlike a gemstone, a pearl cannot be polished; once the surface is damaged, it cannot be restored to its natural beauty. Store pearls in a separate pouch or box away from other gems that could rub against them and scratch their surface. To clean pearls, rub them with a soft cloth. If soap is needed, use a non-abrasive cleaner such as hand soap. Let your pearls air dry fully before you wear them again. Never use bleach, abrasive cleaners, or an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. It may be necessary to have pearls restrung if they are worn frequently.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Does everyone know that the city has cut the fireworks out of the budget this year?

Before Bill Hartman retired he said the city is cutting out all spending that they are able to cut. They are concentrating on keeping the employees onboard. Things are going to be really tight this year.

It would be great if someone in the community would step forward to head a committee to raise the funds for the fireworks.

It costs $19,000 to $20,000 to do the fireworks.

Also we would need to have the money in hand by May to get everything in place for the 4th of July.

I've got other projects I'm working on so can't do it myself.

Any volunteers? Email me!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I can't let this day go by without mentioning the fact that it is inauguration day.

Along with millions of other people we're hoping it is the beginning of change.


We had snow today!!

That doesn't happen too often, with only a couple inches of snow a state of emergency was declared. Being from Michigan originally it sounds pretty silly to me, however because it happens so seldom there is little equipment to clear the roads or spread gravel.

So town was pretty much closed up. I went into the gallery and spent the day straightening cards. It was beautiful watching the snow fall.

But hope it's gone tomorrow!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meet the artist Wild Women Jewelry by Kym Shevlin

I met Kym when she lived here in New Bern. She rented a house from friends of ours and had a gallery where she started making her Wild Women.

Kym talks about her work -

I have always collected things. Fabric that caught my eye, shiny copper wire, brightly colored beads, and bits of vintage jewelry filled my studio. I was sure that I could use them for some project down the road... and then there came the wonderful day that Wild Women were born from this seemingly useless collection of clutter.

I absolutely love bringing these pins to life and sharing them and their spirit with others! They help me keep in touch with my wild side, which as we all know, can sometimes be lost under piles of laundry and dirty dishes. I hope they can do the same for you!

These pins are hand crafted from copper, fabric, paper and other found objects. Each has her own personality and style depending on what fabric or trinkets decorate her and comes mounted on a
vibrant card which proclaims her to be one of the Wild Women!

You can purchase the pins online on our website or stop in to see the entire selection.

We have Thelma & Louise, Little Angels, Little Women, Wild Mama, Soul Sisters, and others.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meet the artist Susanne Coatta

Susanne Coatta lives in Greensboro, NC and has been represented by Carolina Creations in New Bern since 1993.

She does fabulous hand stitched pieces of art. Our favorites are her angels, cats and Santas.

Susanne collects items from tag sales, antique stores or anywhere she can find treasures to incorporate into her work. Old jewelry, ribbon, cigar bands, silk, old quilts and (my favorite) chenille. She she even handstitches the faces. I have 7 in my personal collection!

Susanne moved to Greensboro from Kansas City where she was a partner in a co-op gallery there. She splits her time between Greensboro and Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Some of you may have heard this story, it's one of my favorites.

Once day she walked into Carolina Creations and asked if we would be interested in carrying her work. We'd been selling Susanne's work for 2 or 3 years when she said "I finally have a bio ready for you!" I read about her being born in Michigan. I asked where (since I'm originally from Michigan). She said she was born in Dearborn but her folks lived in Adrian. "Really?" I said. "We're from near there. What are their names?" She told me who they were and who her Aunt was. Her Aunt and my grandmother were neighbors for 60 years and of course I knew her Aunt well and her cousins.

Small world, but it gets even smaller.

A few years later she sent an angel with a lot of VFW ribbons on it. Michael's mother was very involved in the VFW so we sent it to her for a gift and proceeded to tell her the story. Then she told us that when she was just out of high school she was the live in baby sitter for Susanne's cousins!

I guess this could be news of the weird number 2!

Visit our website to see more of Susanne's work by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

News of the Weird

Michael used to read "News of the Weird" in the paper every day, it always had some odd ball thing in it.

My news of the weird this week is Barbie Benton's house in Aspen.

Donna said "I saw this show with Barbie Benton and showed her house, it was really weird."

So that evening I was flipping the channels and lo and behold I saw the same program.

Every inch of every surface in her house is covered with art, mirrors, clothes, stuff! I will have to say that I think I would have nightmares.

When we lived in Aspen we lived about 400 yards from her house. I was never in her house but Michael was. They had lots of plants and put in a system that automatically watered the plants. One winter the pipes froze and flooded the house.

The views from there are stunning I will say. From our house we could see the runs at Snowmass Village, see down the valley to Mt Sopris, Buttermilk Mountain and Snowmass Mountain ski runs.

I was just curious so I did a search about the house to see if I could find a photo of it and found that the house is for sale and here is the description.

In Aspen, Colo., actress and former Playmate Barbi Benton and her husband George Gradow have put their futuristic house known as the Copper Palace on the market for $25 million. Comprising five copper pods connected by stairways, the 25,000-square-foot building is cantilevered in sections to provide views from all areas of the house. Each pod has its own function: The living and entertaining pod, for example, has both a disco and a ballroom. Other features include a gym, a theater and two heated lap pools. The house, which is set on 40 acres, was designed by architect Bart Prince.

We had a lot of interesting experiences when we lived there. Michael worked for John Denver and was the land manager for his Windstar Foundation. I worked for the Aspen Times, and the Aspen Arts Council and did my artwork.

We also met a lot of people and had some interesting or weird experiences too.

Like one time Goldie Hawn, who lived near Windstar, kissed Michael right on the lips!

One time I was sitting next to John at dinner and we were eating fish that still had skin & bones. I sat there looking at it and he reached over and filleted my fish for me.

Another time Michael was at Ivy Pabsts house (as in Pabst Blue Ribbon) and she asked if he wanted a beer, he said sure, she said I have St Pauli Girl, is that ok,? my daddys beer gives me gas!

Just so you know, we were caretakers for a couple large estates in Aspen and we lived in the one by Barbi's house. While the rest of this isn't exactly weird, writing about Aspen just makes me think about our 6 years there.

Of course we met interesting people at Windstar like Buckminster Fuller (I wrote about this in a previous blog), Tony Robbins - that is a news of the weird, we watched people walk through fire - we did NOT!!!, another news of the weird was Werner Erhart and his EST training. we met Leo Buscaglia, Jimmie Buffet, Glenn Frye of the Eagles (his mail box was right next to ours - he's very good looking!), I could go on but enough of that!

It was a fun and interesting time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Newsletter January 12, 2009

This is the content from our January Newsletter that just went out today, in case you didn't get it. To sign up for our newsletter go to our website, at the bottom of the home page there is a place to sign up to receive it . We send it once a month, except 2 in December, and we will not sell or share your email address with anyone.

Art from Our Hearts
The third annual Valentine Show and Sale is coming up!

Carolina Creations Fine Art & Contemporary Craft Gallery is hosting a Valentine Day Card Show January 26-February 14. The cards feature original works by K-12 Craven County Schools art students, representing a wide range of thought, style, and expression.

The cards are $3 each and all proceeds are donated to the Craven County Art Program. The 2008 event which raised more than $1500, featured a wide variety of materials, including hand-made paper, oil, pastel, collage, watercolor and ink.

From 5-7 pm on Friday January 30 you are welcome to bring friends and family to enjoy refreshments and meet Craven County's talented students. The cards will be on sale January 26-February 14. For more information call the gallery at 252-633-4369 or email

Carolina Creations Celebrates 20 Years in Downtown New Bern
October 2009 - September 2010
This fall we will start celebrating our 20th year in business in Downtown New Bern! Watch for a year of celebration.

2008 was quite a year in our Downtown. Our Dickens celebration was a huge success. Our streets were crowded, the events were well attended and people are still talking about reading "A Christmas Carol" in our store windows.

As we look forward to this year, we'll keep our fingers crossed that business is good and that our downtown continues to thrive.

I was reading an article in "Home Accents Today", a magazine for retail businesses that sell home furnishings. The article was What's In, What's Out and was pleased to read that we have many of the things this article says are in. Like, cheese boards (we've got some beauties), hand made artisan items, made in the USA, (that's us!), beautiful serving bowls (we've got lots), nature themed (have you seen our leaf leather purses?), and there were more.

Sale on selected items
We don't often have sales, but we have some items that are the last pieces we have from an artist, or some things that just haven't sold for some reason. This is NOT a gallery wide sale. We have 4 displays of these items that are marked 45% off. The Christmas items we have on the sale rack are 60% off.
We want to make room for new items which will be arriving soon.
Why don't we have sales more often?
Our items are priced by our artists, the prices are not inflated and represent true value. You cannot compare a piece of glass that is stamped out of a machine by the thousands to a piece of glass that is hand blown by an artist. Or a piece of jewelry, or a piece of pottery, a wood creation or a hand tooled leather purse.

One of our artists sent us this quote: "My plea, then, is multifaceted. Support every art form you can. Go to concerts frequently, even if it is a beginning band from elementary school. Write to a Congress member and beg them to preserve our culture. Do all you can.

Use the arts to enrich someone's life and then teach them how to pass it on. Do all you can to preserve what painters, poets, dancers, sculptors, musicians, composers - what all artists have preserved: our humanity. Without the arts, we have nothing to exist for. Nothing to prove we existed. Nothing." - Chris Mindel 4/2000

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Upcoming Events!

We have these events upcoming at Carolina Creations and I am listing other downtown events that I know of too.


1/11 North Carolina Symphony –
Enjoy a classical music concert performance by the North Carolina Symphony at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center. For more information please the North Carolina Symphony at (877) 627-6724 or log onto

January 15-18, 23-25, 29-February 1 – “The Baker’s Wife” –
The endearing but contentious inhabitants of a rural village in Provence, France have been without a baker for seven weeks. Aimable, the baker, arrives with his young wife Genevieve and everything seems delicious again - until a young, strapping local handyman seduces Genevieve away from her older husband. Aimable crumbles - and so does his bread making abilities. Driven to distraction by breadlessness, the villagers lure Genevieve back. Performances begin at 8pm with 2pm matinees on Sunday. Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 at the door. For more information please contact the New Bern Civic Theatre at (252) 633-0567 or log onto

1/16 Contemporary Folk Concert – Brooks Williams
– This blues-inspired entertainer brings rootsy originals, blues classics, sultry slide guitar and finger-picked instrumentals to a performance that regularly bring audiences to their feet. With a soulful and buttery voice, he is one of the most entertaining and engaging performers on the circuit today. Concert will be held at the Trent River Coffee Company beginning 8pm with doors opening at 7pm. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 DownEast FolkArts Society members and $8 for students. For more information please contact Steve Kelly at (252) 633-6444 or log onto Also visit

Friday, January 23rd BBQ & Bluejeans
New Bern Riverfront Convention Center Doors Open at 6 PM • Dinner 7PM All proceeds to benefit the New Bern Firemen’s Museum
Join us for an evening of comfortable blue jeans, good food and great music. Tickets only $25 per person. Tickets Available at Mitchell's Hardware, 215 Craven Street, Firemen’s Museum, 408 Hancock Street, New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, 203 South Front St. For More Information Call 636-4087

January 27 4-7 pm - Our Annual Valentine Card Show through February 14 - at Carolina Creations.
Valentines by Craven County School Children. Each year we display over 1000 hand crafted valentines by area school children. We provide the paper and the envelopes, the children create the cards and then we display and sell them for $3 each. All the proceeds from this event goes to the Craven County School Art Program.

February 15 - Benefit for Ed Ruiz
at the Masonic Theater.
Ed Ruiz, founder and proprietor of Trent River Coffee Company in New Bern, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. TRCC, and Ed, are real institutions in the local art scene. TRCC has hosted performances of acoustic, folk, and alternative music, as well readings and meetings of theater groups, poets, etc. since 1993.

Ed has exhibited and sold the work of local visual artists on his walls. Ed has also performed as a regular member of such local bands as the Delta Bones, Jen & Tonic, and Toxic Gumbo.
To raise money to support Ed in this difficult time, several local musicians and friends are organizing a "Benefit for Ed" on Sunday, February 15.

Local bands will be performing at this event. Confirmed bands include:
Breck Jarman's Opry Band (classic Country and Gospel revue)
Tuppence (acoustic folk)
ChrisAnnDale (variety trio guitar-flute-bass)
In the Pocket (Folk-Rock-Jazz-Fusion)
Silver Spire (acoustic Celtic, Americana, and Gospel)
The RetroRockets (Vintage Rock & Roll of the "tailfin era")
Hot Buttered Grits (Southern Fried Electric 'Grass)
Collateral Damage (Rock, Blues, Jazz, Boogie and more)
The Hanging Chads (Progressive Jazz)
Jen & Tonic (Classic Soul, Blues, and Contemporary Songs)

Additional bands are anticipated to join the line-up for this event, which promises to be a "who's who" of local entertainment. Besides the music, there will be a raffle, some refreshments for sale, and a silent auction of donated items.

The Benefit for Ed will be held at the Masonic Theater, at 516 Hancock Street in downtown New Bern. The event will start at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10 (children $5), available at the door. For further information, to make arrangements to perform, or to donate items for the auction, contact Simon Spalding at 252-636-1256 or at Check out the event website at

ArtWalk March 13 5-8 pm - Celebrating New Bern -
Artwork depicting New Bern by Brenda Behr, T Rader, Janet Francoeur and others.

March 13-14, 20-22, 27 StageHANDS “Narnia”
– Sticking closely to C.S. Lewis’s 1950 masterpiece, the musical tells the story of Peter, Edmund, Lucy and Susan, four evacuees who walk through the back of a coat-stuffed wardrobe into Narnia, an enchanted land where a bare-knuckled fight between good and evil is taking place. They side with the lion king, Aslan and his band of animals, both natural and mythical, against the White Witch. The children are joined in their adventure by the leaders of the resistance, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who hide them and take them to Aslan so that their destiny to sit on the four thrones of Narnia may be fulfilled. Performances begin at 8pm with 2pm Sunday matinees. Tickets are $12 in advance for adults and $10 in advance for children. At the door tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for children. For more information please contact the New Bern Civic Theatre at (252) 633-0567 or log onto

March 28 - 1st Annual Wine Festival

Friday, April 17 & 18th 10 am -5:00 pm : Spring Historic Homes & Gardens Tour

May 8 ArtWalk 5-8 pm
Friday, May 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
May 10 7:30 pm -10:00 pm : North Carolina Symphony Performance
Friday, May 15, 16 & 17 MCAS Cherry Point Air Show
Saturday, May 30 Neuse River Day

July 10 ArtWalk 5-8 pm

September 11 ArtWalk 5-8 pm

November 13 ArtWalk 5-8 pm

December 4, 5, 6 8:00 pm -11:00 pm : “The Gifts of the Magi”

Thursday, December 31 First Night New Bern 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2009 Tell us what you want

January is when we start planning shows for the year, finding new art, figuring out what we can do better and looking for new ideas.

We'd love to hear from you!

What would you like to have us carry more of?

What don't we have that you wish we did?

What do you love about us, or don't love about us?

Just send an email with your thoughts by clicking here.

We appreciate constructive criticism so let us know what we can do better.

Thank you! Jan Francoeur

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Top 10 Highlights for 2008

Now that the dust has settled and we have returned from our annual New Years time with our friends John & Linda I'd like to join the throngs of bloggers offering up reviews of the past 365 days.

In no particular order, here are our Top 10 Highlights from 2008:

10. Being honored for the Martin Rishti Award at the Buyers Market of American Craft at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. I am on the board of the Craft retailers Association for Tomorrow. It's a group of Galleries like ours (180 galleries) that sell Art and American Craft. The Award I was given was for my work developing a website for our organization.

I've met great friends through our business and the CRAFT organization, both the artists and other gallery owners like Sandra from GoodGoods, Karen from Whippoorill, David & Polly from Appalachian Spring, Deb from A Show of Hands, Gloria from Brooke Gallery, Donna Milstein from Hanson Galleries, Don, Laurie from Gallery Morada and others.

9. Our 25th wedding anniversary that we celebrated in NYC.

8. Being of chairman and spending over 200 hours on our "Dickens of a Christmas in Downtown New Bern."

7. Having our new home on the Historical Society Home Tour. You might ask how does a new contemporary home get to be on the Historical Home Tour? For the past 2 years the Historical Society has added Art to the title, Historical Society Home and Art Tour. I also have been doing the artwork for the home tour for quite a few years. This year the art work I did for the tour was a tile wall hanging shown here.

6. Revamping our Carolina Creations website and adding a shopping cart to it. It's fun to wake up in the morning and look to see what we sold overnight.

5. Going to spend a couple days with Justine doing clay sculpture.

4. Our gallery shows Feb Valentine Show , March Pop! Show featuring work by gallery artists., May Smoke & Fire II Raku Show, July Summer in the City show with Mary Page whitley, Brenda Behr, myself and others, Sept Sally Sutton Show Color and Light, Nov Hand crafted Nativity and Ornament Show.

3. Touring our area with my sister & brother in law and Michael sister & friends. We did the town, went to the palace, rode the Trolley, rode the ferry, and sat on our porch and watched the world go by.

2. Having the Horseless Carriage Club come to town and being able to see more 60 cars parade up and down our street for a week. The newest car was 1926.

1. Surviving in the retail business in a tough business economy.

Wishing all our readers a happy and prosperous 2009.