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Dallas art scene

Local artisans display handiwork at Highland Springs visual arts fair

Created date

December 20th, 2011

When Nancy Kempf and her husband, Robert, moved to Highland Springs in February 2010, from Silver Spring, Md., they only required that one specific item come with them Nancy s loom. I worked as an occupational therapist, and I used to incorporate arts and crafts into my therapy, says Nancy. Once I retired, I had more time to pursue the crafts I enjoyed, particularly weaving. The couple set up her must-have item, a 36-inch floor loom in the second bedroom of their apartment home. She uses it to weave one-of-a-kind scarves, placemats, table runners, and blankets. Although Robert and Nancy had a long list of reasons for choosing Highland Springs their son lives in the area and they liked the on-site medical center and robust complement of activities Nancy was pleasantly surprised to find the North Dallas Erickson Living community home to a number of other artists. Weaving has been a solitary pursuit for me, so I wasn t thinking about connecting with other artists when we moved, Nancy says. That was an unexpected treat.

Boutique shopping experience

Recently, the community s artisans put their handiwork up for sale at Highland Springs first visual arts fair. Residents and staff enjoyed a day of boutique shopping, many snatching up deals on unique gift items. With prices ranging from $3 to $100, shoppers had their choice of everything from Nancy s scarves to handcrafted wood toys. The Highland Springs Woodchucks occupied several booths at the visual arts fair. One of the more unusual items for sale was a custom-designed Hand and Foot tray. The card game has become so popular at the community that resident Sam Davidson designed and built a wood tray to hold the required five decks of cards. I think most residents have already purchased one, Sam says. A lot of them are coming back to buy more for their children and grandchildren. Jewelry artist Sharon Roth sold handmade bead necklaces in an assortment of styles and colors. By the end of the fair, she sold nearly everything on her table. No two necklaces are alike, she says. I never know how a particular piece will turn out until it s finished. Sharon didn t take up beading until she moved to Highland Springs in 2007. She and her husband Jim recently returned from a trip to New Mexico with a group of Highland Springs residents. Sharon gave each woman on the trip one of her creations. I don t craft to make money, she says. I do it to make people happy.

The artist s life

Just as each artist has his or her own muse, Highland Springs artists each pursue their crafts in different ways. I get a second wind at night, says Jody Ferguson, a multimedia artist who offered hand-dyed scarves and wine covers, brooches, and purses at the fair. That s when I seem to do my best work. Barbara and Tom Coady, both retired educators, moved to Highland Springs in 2007. They opted to turn the master bedroom in their two-bedroom apartment home into an art studio. Barbara makes soft sculptures; Tom paints miniatures. Honestly, I take up most of the studio, says Barbara, who once fashioned a bull that is now a part of the community s annual Mardi Gras parade. Tom s canvas is so small usually less than two inches. He doesn t need much space.