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May 04, 2006 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-05-04

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Arts & Entertainment

Family Affair

Birmingham Fine Art Festival features
artists with familial connections.

Suzanne Chessler
Specialto the Jewish News

rt is a family venture
— wife and husband,
mother and daughter
— for four artists participating
in this year's Birmingham Fine
Art Festival.
Patti and Bob Stern, based in
Ohio, divide up their projects
to make whimsical furniture
accessories, from large clocks to
framed flowers. Rita Leeds and
Dawn Reeves, who live near each
other in Keego .Harbor, paint fab-
rics-before styling jackets, wraps
and scarves.

country and has participated in
many Michigan events. "My hus-
band makes cabinets that look
like human forms, and I show
freeze-dried flowers made into
wall pieces."
The Sterns, who travel in a
van and pull a trailer, also make
special•designs using vintage
windows, hanging racks and
key holders. As they drive to
fairs, they allow time to stop at
antique dealers to choose core
materials for their decorative
projects. The two let buyers
know where the components
were found.
The couple, married for 20-




Silk designs from Stylish Impressions, a mother-daughter business
owned by Rita Leeds and Dawn Reeves

years, found second careers with
The four will be among
their commitment to art, an
hundreds of artists working
interest that intensified. in 1993
Saturday-Sunday, May 13-14,
and became full-time in 1998.
in Shain .Park and along -sur--
She had been an interior. decora-
rounding streets-in Birmingham
and he had been a distribu-
for the annual event Varranged
manager for a hardware
by the Birmingham Bloomfield
Art Center and the Birmingham
The new initiative came after
Bloomfield Chamber.
she saw a window and thought
Entertainment, children's activi-
ties and special foods are all part of different possibilities for
using it.
of the festival.
"We're both self taught:' says
"We transform architectural
who does not do Judaica
antique components into works
but does keep active with a tem-
of art:' says Patti Stern, who
ple in Beechwood, Ohio. "We go
travels to art fairs around the


May 4 • 2006

to about 35 art fairs each year."
TheSterns, whose business
is named the Perfect View, keep
their projects separated in two
home studios. They started out
with more traditional designs
and became edgier as time went
on. This year brings extra hur-
dles with soaring gas prices that
limit their-driving distances in
the interest of profit margins.
"We set up our booth so
that people can visualize how
our items will look in a home
explains Stern, in her third year
at the Birmingham event. "It
takes us five hours to set up our
selling space
Leeds and Reeves, self-taught
artists as they developed tech-
niques, work with silk. Their
designs -are abstract with colors
developed in a process they keep
"Everything we do is one-
of-a-kind," Leeds says. "We've
been doing this for about 15
years, and we travel to about 15
shows a year. We've been to fairs
in Chicago, Indianapolis and
Leeds, whose interest in art
started 40 years ago as a china
painter, first took private les-
sons. She moved on to other
forms as she signed up for
classes at the Birmingham
Bloomfield Art Center. Her inter-
est in fabrics began 15 years ago.
Leeds shared fabric approach-
es with her daughter, and
Reeves, an Oak Park leacher,
began making her own designs,
9ften more subtle and geometric
than her mother's.
"Together, we call our gar-
ments Stylish Impressions," says
Leeds, who divides her year
between Michigan and Florida-
and attends religious services at
a Florida synagogue. "Still, we
go our separate ways when it
comes to doing the work." El

Patti Stern: Beveled Floral Door.

The Birmingham Fine Art Festival runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday,
May 13, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 14,-in Shain Park and
surrounding streets in Birmingham. (248) 644-0866.

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