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Live Active Cultures

Seth explores folk art in gritty downtown Sanford

Photo: Butch Anthony, License: N/A

Butch Anthony

The artists on exhibit refute the misconception that folk artists are unskilled or unsophisticated; though formally untrained and fascinated with nontraditional materials, all display technical dexterity and a complex appreciation for cultural history.

For the single-day show, 10 designers – some from as far away as Ohio and Oregon – displayed their sinister sculptures amid cobwebs and caution tape. A few of my favorites included: Melissa Menzer, whose windowpane skeletons and cobbled-together creatures sport names like “The Perfume of Evil” and “I’m Going to the Party as My Owner”; Sue Losey, who makes charming charms from antique optometry lenses and pre-World War II stationery; Butch Anthony, who paints line-art skeletons over vintage portraits and sculpts animal bones into household objects (think Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the gore); and Dianne Waldron and Elaine Thomas,crafters of hand-sculpted flying witches and pumpkin people, respectively.

Though the collectible characters covered a wide range (from Monine Brocco’s 1940s pinup zombie to Rojas’ black cat riding a watermelon), all seemed to be reclaiming elements of the past to retro-invent a holiday more nostalgic and less nasty than our latter-day Halloween. After all of this month’s high-tech, high-intensity theme park tricks and treats, simple smiling pumpkins and handmade monsters sound like heaven.

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