During my lunch hour today, I wandered through artsALIVE! at Smith Park in downtown Jackson. The event is an open-air fine arts and crafts festival, and I was really impressed with both the merchandise on offer and some of the rock-bottom prices.
The weather was lovely. I soaked up the sunshine and the live music (there was a string quartet) as I perused the merchandise. Plus, the azaleas and dogwood in the park were in full bloom, so I was able to enjoy that bit of spring as well. They were selling food at the event, but having just shoveled in a bowl of shrimp and crawfish pasta at tye's (good food, slow service for today's visit), I wasn't hungry. (Though I did buy some brownie bites at the bake sale table. Ooops.)
There was plenty of handmade jewelry for sale, but what really interested me were some of the home decor items. There were some gorgeous prints and painting selling for what I thought were very reasonable amounts. I was strong, though, until I came to Johanna Massingale's booth. What that woman does is amazing. She takes live flowers, leaves, and other natural materials, preserves them so they retain their color, then presses them. THEN she arranges the pressed botanics into gorgeous patterns, pictures, vignettes, etc., and frames them. I nearly came to blows with another woman over a large framed collection of beautifully colored leaves. I eventually let her have it, and I bought one of the smaller ones instead. The large framed piece was about $75, and the one I bought sold for a mere $45. Good luck finding framed original art for THAT price anywhere else.
There was also a booth by Peace Works that was selling beautiful handmade wooden cutting boards. Many of the boards were made out of several different types of wood, and the multi-hued effect was striking. I picked one up (my current cutting board is DEFINITELY showing its age) for $35.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) in the park as well, and live entertainment will include everything from string groups to dancers to choirs to theatre. Admission to the event is free! Check it out!