WinterArts is Back!

It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means! For the last 4 years, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been opening night for WinterArts – a consortium of local artists who sell and show their work in a holiday artists’ market. For the last three years, WinterArts has been in the same location – 2055 West Street in the Shops of Saddle Creek South in Germantown.

Today, the artists continue to set up their work and everything will be in place for the opening reception this Friday night, November 23rd from 5 PM to 9 PM. As usual, the wine will be free flowing and there will be plenty of sweet and savory snacks to enjoy. But best of all, the opening will showcase the best that Memphis has to offer in fine handcrafted art. And the artists will be on hand and available to talk about what inspires them! The media represented in the show includes all kinds of glass: handblown, kiln fired, fused and lampworked; wood, including handturned, segmented, carved and handbuilt furniture; jewelry of all kinds: precious stones, precious metal, polymer clay, ceramic and glass, ostrich eggs(!); clay in all manners of form, shape and sizes; metal both as jewelry and as home decor; fiber including knitted, sewn, dyed and handwoven, and of course there will be artists who paint and sculpt represented here as well.

This year’s  WinterArts’ artists include: Jen Winfrey•Dorothy Northern•Ansley Larsson•Sharron & Jim Barrett•Rick Cannon•Linda Livaudias•Lisa Mergen•Lisa Butts•Bryan Blankenship•Lisa Hudson•David Johnson•Linda Twist•Shove•IT Designs•Becky Ziemer•Thomas Spake•Beth Prussia Day•David Day•Angela Goza•Karen BottleCapps•Virginia Nuckolls•Cheryl Hazelton•Mary Lou Egger•Felcitas Sloves•Marian McKinney•Katie Dann•Chris Dalrymple•Briggette Lang•Nancie Roark •Cathy Talbot•Ron Olson & MORE! Most are local artists, but there are a few from Mississippi, Nashville and Chattanooga who were invited because of the high quality of their work.

My work is mostly set up as of today. And here is a teaser of my handwoven accessories that you will see at WinterArts.

Not to worry if you can’t be there for the opening reception. WinterArts will be open daily from November 24th through Christmas Eve. All the artists will continue to bring in new work every day throughout the month. All of us at WinterArts will look forward to seeing you and hope that you will come back again and again! WinterArts means that you will find affordable gifts by local artists, and it has become a premiere shopping destination for the holiday season.

Desperately Seeking High End Crafts in Memphis


WinterArts - Affordable Gifts by Local Artists

Living in the Bible Belt guarantees that each holiday season there will be a gazillion opportunities to attend “Arts and Crafts Bazaars” at a local church on any given Saturday between Halloween and Christmas. Few of these fairs are juried by committees with discerning eyes for fine craft. So by this time in November, local folks may get pretty tired of seeing yet another onesie proclaiming that it’s wearer is “Cute as a Button” or thin socks made in China, or wreaths and jewelry assembled from kits that were assembled in China. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But for those who expect a unique and finely made craft object produced by a maker who considers himself/herself a professional artist, and who produces his/her art locally, there is relief in sight.

In recent years, the craft holiday market in Memphis has been growing to include high end craft items created by local artists who have been doing this kind of work for years.  Previously, many have found greater success in selling their work outside of the area where the market for good quality craft products command more respect and in turn a higher price. For years, the high end holiday shows in this region have been commandeered by the fine art market, which locally is very fine indeed. However, little room was left for the many glass artists, wood workers, fiber artists, metalsmiths, printmakers and clay artists who live and work in the Memphis area.

This holiday season, there will be two shows that are fairly new to Memphis (this will be the second year for both shows) that will showcase the fine crafts of local artists. And of course everything will be available for sale at very reasonable prices. And yes, my handwoven scarves and my handbound books will be at both shows.  If you are in the Memphis area or plan to visit, please stop by. WinterArts will be open daily until December 24 and the Brooks Museum Artists Market will be a one day event on December 5. The Museum will be planning many special events on that day for shoppers and museum goers including a special holiday luncheon at their renowned “Brushmark” Restaurant. I hope to meet many of you there! More information is posted below.

WinterArts – Affordable Gifts by Local Artists.  The Shops of Saddle Creek South, West Street at Poplar Avenue, Germantown, TN 38138.  Opening Reception is Friday, November 26, 2010, 5:30 – 9 PM.  Open daily from November 27 to December 24.  Works in glass, clay, wood, metal, fiber, jewelry, photography and paintings.

Brooks Museum Artists Market at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104.  Sunday, December 5, 2010 from 11 AM – 5 PM.  Holiday bazaar presented by the Brooks Museum Gift Shop and representing local artists who also sell their work year round in the gift shop. Artists who will be there work in clay, wood, metal, jewelry, paper and fiber.

Weavers Need to Eat Too!

I’m going to take a detour from my usual posts about weaving, fiber and book arts.  There’s a restaurant in the Memphis area that makes me feel like I’ve been transported into Chinatown of a city like New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia or Boston.  I’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants in those cities, and New Asia in Exeter Village Center at Exeter and Poplar in Germantown  feels like it belongs in one of those cities.  But  it belongs here in the Memphis area and it certainly looks like it’s here to stay.  We’ve eaten there many times in the last few months.  The restaurant is one huge room with several large tables, bright lights and lots of noise.  The wait staff welcomes everyone with friendly smiles and quick and efficient service.

What you will need to know to make you feel like you’ve been transported into Chinatown is that there are two menus to choose from.  The red menu is the one to go with — this is the “authentic” Chinese cuisine menu.  The other menu, the green one is for Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine.  The green menu has many  lovely offerings, but is not very different from menus of other top notch Asian restuarants in Memphis, eg. Mosa and Asian Grill. The authentic menu includes more traditional Asian food offerings without any “Americanization”.  They are unusual, richly flavored, and have a characteristic feel of Asian “comfort food”.  It’s really hard to explain other than that the food is wonderfully delicious.

Seafood hot and sour soup

Seafood hot and sour soup

To begin with, the seafood hot and sour soup is an adventure for those who love to experience texture.  (Keep in mind this is a weaver talking!) Not too spicy and not to sweet, your taste buds will be surprised by the velvety texture of tofu and shrimp, then followed by the crunchiness of a bit of octopus or squid, all of which are generously ladled in the soup.  Another soup that has a more overall velvety texture is the crab meat with cream corn soup.  This is  more subtle than the hot and sour but still has a great deal of character.

There are few places in Memphis where you can find fresh and well prepared seafood.  New Asia is one of them.  The chef’s special –the whole braised cod in spicy tomato sauce is excellent.

Whole braised cod in spicy tomato sauce

Whole braised cod in spicy tomato sauce

It is beautifully presented, the meat comes off of the bones cleanly and the tomato sauce adds a smooth and sweetly powerful flavor to an otherwise tasteless fish.  The fish itself is huge — plenty for two with enough to take home in your “doggie” bag.

Other highly recommended seafood dishes are the Hot Braised Filet of Sole (served in a sauce similar to the tomato sauce of the braised cod) and the Scallops with Black Bean Sauce. Ordinarily black bean sauce may leave a strange aftertaste, but this sauce is prepared in such a way that you’ll be smacking your lips for more!

Scallops with black bean sauce

Scallops with black bean sauce

Sizzling dishes are always fun to order at Asian restaurants, and New Asia aims to please in this department.  My favorite is the Sizzling Chicken with Black Pepper.  It has a strong pepper flavor complemented by such  tender chicken pieces that they melt in your mouth like “buttah”.  The Sizzling Beef with Satay Sauce surprised me, in that the “satay” sauce was not what I expected.   I was looking for the more traditional satay sauce of Indonesian and Thai origin.  The satay sauce at New Asia was more like a mild black bean sauce — still tasty nonetheless.

Sizzling beef with satay sauce

Sizzling beef with satay sauce

The sizzling dishes are beautifully presented on a hot skillet with a wooden board.

As far as vegetables, pea plant with garlic seems to be a staple of authentic cuisine.  It is steamed with whole cloves of garlic and is similar to escarole with a major kick.  The fragrant eggplant is another crowd pleaser.  Not at all bitter or tough, the strips of eggplant are prepared in a mild pepper sauce with slices of chile pepper.  For the less adventurous, the green menu for Cantonese and Szechuan Cuisine has a milder version of this dish.

The atmosphere of  New Asia is a definite down home type of experience.  Many of the large round tables are filled with families, and groups of people both young and old.  It seems that it is a favorite of  Asian families.  To have an experience like New Asia here in the Memphis area is truly special.  If you don’t have a chance to visit the restaurants of Chinatown in a major U.S. city, then take a short trip down Poplar, you’ll find the same experience there.