Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Friday

I have blogged before about Gutierrez Studios (http://gutierrezstudios.com), a custom wood- and metal-working shop in the Clipper Mill section of Baltimore, Maryland where skilled artisans, inspired by the artistic vision of the company’s founder and my good friend, John Gutierrez, manipulate wood, iron, steel and other building materials into imaginative forms of beauty and function.  Indeed, back in 2005, when I decided that I didn’t care for the utilitarian appearance of the oven-door handles on my new Jenn-Aire gas range, I sketched my vision of free-form grips and asked John if his shop could make them for me. Although they had never before attempted such a thing, in short order one of his talented artisans, Nick Trincia, presented me with a prototype for my approval, and a pair of undulating bronze grab-bars have graced my stove ever since… to rave reviews by all who see them, I might add.
Custom door handles fabricated for me by Gutierrez Studios in 2005
John lost his courageous battle with cancer two years ago, and last year his lovely longtime girlfriend and business partner, Roya Golpira, initiated an open house at Gutierrez Studios on the first Friday of every month to honor John’s memory and display some of the showroom’s latest designs. A memorial fund drive, conceived in 2010 for the purpose of building a sculptural fire pit in front of Gutierrez Studios to further honor John’s artistic vision, was propelled to fruition with the establishment of the John Gutierrez Memorial Walk. Once the towering fireplace (set in position by a crane) was installed, the memorial walk became an annual event to raise funds to support up and coming artists in Baltimore.
The amazing fireplace designed and constructed to honor John Gutierrez
Following a summer break from the monthly open house events at Gutierrez Studios, September 7 marked the First Friday celebration of autumn 2012. While it will continue to be called "First Friday", the three-hour party featuring catered food and live music, which is intended to bring artists and art patrons together in a festive environment, will be held only on the first Friday of each quarter going forward.

Nevertheless, I was stoked that it was finally time for Gutierrez Studios' open house, as I have a number of acquaintances who attend regularly and I was anxious to see them all after the season's respite. To commemorate the evening, I chose a diaphanous confection by QED London that I brought back with me from my trip to Ireland in July. The fanciful hemline, rising to miniskirt height in front and dropping clear to the floor in back, gives the sheer fabric in a tribal print a bohemian, almost savage vibe, perfect for showing off a rustic necklace I found at Swamp Boutique in County Cork of hammered mixed-metal disks on a black cord choker, and mixed metal earrings I purchased a few years ago at Tina’s Antiques & Jewelry, a quirky but fabulous little shop at 237 Main Street in Reisterstown, Maryland (410) 833-9337.

Since my legs were on full display below my gauzy attire, I chose black peep-toe platform pumps with tall wooden heels by Marley for JCPenney. I added a gold-metal bracelet-watch from Chico’s, a gold-encrusted seashell ring I found at the Maryland Renaissance Festival last year, and cinched my waist with a wide belt adorned with a black crepe flower pinned over the triple-buckles because I deemed them a bit too "steam-punk" for such a sheer dress.

The evening was a smash. Fed by the expert caterers from Clementine’s Restaurant (http://bmoreclementine.com) and entertained by Bossalingo (www.bossolingo.com), I enjoyed the company of many people I hadn’t seen in several months -- and received several compliments on my gossamer threads.  I also registered for this year's John Gutierrez Memorial Walk, to be held Saturday, October 20, at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.  You can register too, by going to Gutierrez Memorial Walk.  Join me and hundreds of others in giving a young, aspiring artist a "leg up" by helping fund his or her portfolio or an apprenticeship. That's what John Gutierrez would have wanted.

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