Among the 450 artists scheduled to appear at this week's Bayou City Art Festival at Memorial Park are designers who focus on helping us curate our most personal art collections -- our wardrobes. If you are always on the hunt for one-of-a-kind jewelry, conceptual handbags, cut-to-fit leather belts and other "no one else will have it" items, the Bayou City Art Festival is not to be missed. The festival is also an opportunity to meet and work with artists on custom couture and bespoke designs as well, according to Art Colony Association board member Bart Truxillo.
"We have an extraordinary number of artists in the show, from around the United States and the world, and the festival allows for a dialogue about art between the artist and the customer. Whether it's painting, sculpture, jewelry or other wearable art, a lot of our artists take commissions from those who want custom work during [the festival]."
Artists Bozenna and Lukasz Bogucki will be showing their work for the first time at the Bayou City Art Festival this weekend. The California-based husband-and-wife team are originally from Poland, and today they design and create handbags constructed from the fine, stainless-steel wire mesh they first encountered designing lamps.
"My wife was thinking of handbags for a long time, and we started to experiment," said Lukasz. "The wire mesh is difficult to use, but we ended up with a good-looking line of handbags." Every bag -- and every bracelet they create from the scraps -- passes through the artists' hands. "Our pieces might look simple, but the process is complicated by the material memory," said Bozenna. "There is no room for mistakes -- you have to be very skilled."
Lukasz likened caring for a Bo's Art handbag to caring for a car. "You can drive it for years and years, unless you go and hit something!" he joked. "But if you use it carefully, it will last a long time. We have women who come back and say, 'I got mine seven years ago and use it all the time!'"
Photos don't do the intricate work justice, however -- Bozenna says you really need to see the bags in person to understand the process. "We are artist-designers, not manufacturers," she stressed. "We create wearable art objects, timeless and designed to be cherished."
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Claudia Carreón Candelas is another designer making her first appearance at the Bayou City Art Festival, and interacting with customers isn't just fun -- it's a crucial aspect of her work. She designs hairpins, combs and scarf rings, and demonstrating how to wear her pieces is an essential part of communicating with clients.
"I talk a lot! You have to in this business. Women don't think my hair clips or pins will hold their hair. 'Nothing will hold my hair!' is something I hear a lot," said Claudia. "I have demonstration videos on my website, too, for the women who get home and can't quite remember what I showed them before."
Every single piece she makes is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, said Candelas. "All of my pieces are one-of-a-kind, and they always will be -- I don't use molds; everything is done freehand." If you like versatile jewelry with multiple functions, Candelas's designs will surely please. "The scarf rings are really cool because they can be used on shawls, scarves, and beach cover-ups and sarongs," she said. "They can be used as a belt buckle. When I make a piece, I try to think in all of the different ways it can be used; I like a piece that has multiple uses."
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Maureen Roberts and her husband, Michael, will be bringing MoMo SoHo -- their "hippie couture" line of clothing -- to the Bayou City Art Festival for the third time. Maureen and Michael have designed pieces for many celebrities and television shows, including Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and The City, Joss Stone and Paris Hilton. When it comes to high-end couture, Michael and Maureen firmly believe that fashion is for everyone.
"We specialize in all shapes and sizes," said Michael. "Maureen was formerly a plus-size model at Ford, and we've always catered to the curvy gals -- and our clothes are flattering on curves. We don't like to -- or have to -- stick to little, model-size things." MoMo SoHo specializes in gowns (though they do make some tops, scarves and dresses) in silks and satins that are then treated with a combination of tie-dye and batik techniques.
"Our woman is not a shrinking violet," said Maureen. "Our dresses are colorful and sexy -- for the woman who wants something completely one-of-a-kind. No one will have her dress!" Often dressing brides, bridal parties and mothers of the bride who want something more eye-catching than traditional, Maureen and Michael have perfected the art of vintage chic dress design.
"We say we are '1930s glamour meets 1970s rock n' roll,'" explained Michael. "Elegant but funky, and completely unique -- that's who we design for."