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Neighbors’ art attracts soles to Westerwood

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GREENSBORO — Until five years ago, even longtime Westerwood residents didn’t realize they were living in the midst of an artistic hub.

Then Fairmont Street neighbors Ann Lynch and Paige Cox started talking about all of the people they knew nearby creating art. And that’s how Lynch, a potter, and Cox, a fiber artist, started the annual Westerwood Art & Sole event.

The neighborhood fall art hop draws hundreds of visitors and is now part of the citywide 17 Days arts and culture festival. This year, 18 artists will sell and show their wares on Saturday at 15 homes throughout Westerwood.

The studio tours not only give the artists a chance to promote their work, but their patrons also get a peek into their lives.

“They get to see how an artist lives — what does their home look like and how does it look different from ours,” Lynch said.

Lynch says some artists may not open their homes to the public. Some have studios outside their homes or will display their work outdoors.

Art & Sole visitors will see her pottery studio, as well as an area she calls “the Cracked Pot.” It’s a strip of space outside her studio that holds an eclectic mix of pottery, seashells and vintage glass.

Featured artists include potters, painters, woodworkers, jewelers and ceramicists.

Kelley Griffith, a Westerwood resident for 44 years, didn’t realize he lived in a virtual artists’ colony until Art & Sole began. Griffith will showcase his handmade wooden furniture and artifacts at his home studio. The retired UNCG English professor knew many of his university colleagues lived in the neighborhood. The campus is a mere 12-minute walk from his house, which was what drew him to the neighborhood.

When he decided to turn his longtime woodworking hobby into a second career, Sunburst Fine Woodwork-ing, Griffith didn’t realize so many of his neighbors were artists and craftsmen. It has enriched his life, he said, “knowing that there are other artists nearby who are passionate about their craft.”

He met fellow woodworker Gary Lowell at last year’s Art & Sole. Lowell’s business, Lowell Boats, is known across the U.S. for its work. Lowell’s specialty is classic wooden boat restoration and construction. The two hit it off when Lowell visited Griffith’s studio last year. Griffith suggested Lowell show his boats for Art & Sole.

Lowell will make his debut with two handmade pieces for sale — an Acorn dinghy and a small skiff. He says he hadn’t thought of himself as an artist but that he’s eager to showcase his work.

Griffith says that although a typical patron may not be in the market for a wooden boat or furniture, participation is more about the exposure.

“It’s fun,” Griffith said. “I like meeting people and talking about my work.People like talking about what they do.”

Martha Hughes-James uses the event to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her two teenage sons have Type 1 diabetes, and the family raises thousands of dollars for the JDRF through bikeathons and walkathons and the sale of metal tree sculptures.

The trees, which are made at her husband’s architectural metals plant, sell for $150 to $350. Buyers often hang their own colored glass bottles on them. This is the third year that Hughes-James has sold the sculptures at Art & Sole, and it’s the only event where they are showcased.

Westerwood artists also support each other. Tree sculptures are found in yards throughout the neighborhood. Lynch has the art work of several neighbors in her home.

Griffith says the event united him with other woodworkers, who now visit each other’s studios. “We talk together and share information and laugh and joke,” he said. “I’ve learned from it.”

Contact Tina Firesheets at tinafiresheets@gmail.com.

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