Spotlight: Paradise City Arts Festival; Heather Maloney album release show

Published: 10/10/2019 4:39:09 PM

Twenty-five years of art at Three County Fairgrounds

The Paradise City Arts Festival is a staple in Northampton, and as such it’s easy to forget just how long it’s been here. How about a quarter of a century? That’s right: The biannual event, which returns to the Three County Fairgrounds this Saturday through Monday, Oct. 12-14, first set up shop there in the fall of 1995.

It’s a celebration of both arts and crafts, with some 225 artists from over 20 states offering a wide variety of items for sale and display: paintings, photographs, fine furniture, glass and ceramic art, jewelry, sculpture, wearable art and more. There are workshops, artist talks and demonstrations as well, and a special themed exhibit, “The Circle Game,” that’s dedicated to art examining “the ultimate curvilinear shape,” as event notes put it.

Co-founding Director Linda Post says there was a fair amount of trial and error in early years as she and her husband, Geoffrey Post, got the event up and running. “Some of it was a learning experience,” she said. “But we’ve been pretty lucky overall.” Rain, for instance, is not an issue now, as the exhibit halls and a food court are connected by covered walkways.

Linda Post also says Paradise City Arts always showcases new artists every year — roughly 20 percent. One newcomer this weekend is Dawn Allen of Westfield, who through photography, digital painting and a style of stitching she calls “thread painting,” creates images that can be transferred to fabrics such as quilts (as seen above).

“This is what I’ve always loved [about the festival] — introducing new artists to visitors,” said Post.

Festival hours this weekend are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. Tickets, available onsite and online, range from $8 to $16 based on age and the number of days of visitation. Children 12 and under are free, as is parking. For more information, visit paradisecityarts.com or call (800) 511-9725.

A collective memory

Northampton singer-songwriter Heather Maloney settled for releasing a six-song EP last year, “Just Enough Sun,” featuring her and guitarist Ryan Hommel, her touring partner, playing and recording live in a small recording space, with minimal overdubs and other instrumentation.

But Maloney, who’s been touring for several years now, has drawn wholesale from that experience to paint on a wider musical canvas on her new studio album, “Soil in the Sky,” which will have its official release party on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Northampton’s Academy of Music at 7 p.m.

On the disc, on Signature Sounds of Northampton, Maloney has blended folk, rock and some world-beat sounds to look at her own experiences and those of others. On what could serve as the album’s title track, “Oklahoma Ballad,” she recalls the struggle of homesteaders on the Great Plains who saw their lives destroyed in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. “We Were Together” is an anthemic, rootsy rocker on which she duets with Taylor Goldsmith, the frontman of folk rockers Dawes. “Hangin’ On,” by contrast, is a plaintive, largely piano-based love song.

As album notes put it, the new songs form “a constellation that looks a lot like life…. There’s a spiritual thread throughout the record. That inspiration doesn’t necessarily come from above, but from all around: the glow of humanity gathered in the people and places that lap out in our wake.”

Tickets for the Oct. 12 show are $15-$25 and can be purchased by calling (413) 584-9032, ext.105 or by visiting aomtheatre.com and following the links to Maloney’s show.

— Steve Pfarrer




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