Tucson artist Toni Matison-Horn won’t be spending Valentine’s Day with her husband because she lost him to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, back in 2005. But she’s creating art and selling art that benefits those living with the devastating neuromuscular condition.
I met Matison-Horn while strolling through the “Made in Arizona Festival” with my son Christopher on Saturday. The event runs through Sunday, so folks still have time to enjoy it. Matison-Horn is sharing a booth with two other artists, located near the Silverland shop that houses a museum called the “House of Broadcasting.”
Her husband was a news anchor, making the loss of speech that eventually comes with ALS especially heartwrenching. I imagine it’s like being a writer who can no longer hold a pen, or a painter unable to wield a brush. Seems he had a large collection of ties, which Matison-Horn decided to incorporate into whimsical works of fabric art.
Friends suggested she save Harry’s ties, and began gathering and sharing other ties for her creations. Together they donated about 1,ooo ties to the cause. Those of you still searching for Valentine’s Day gifts should explore the festival’s “Ties 4 ALS” booth where Matison-Horn is exhibiting her works.
It’s a lovely reuse of items that would otherwise find their way to burgeoning heaps of trash. So too are the works of artist Sherry Maguire, with Eye 4 Art of Tempe. She’s sharing a booth with Matison-Horn, and also creates works by reusing discarded materials. Sometimes, Maguire told me, she find just a single piece of an old toy or other object — and gives it a home until it fits into something she’s working on.
One of her artworks is a black rectangular frame, about the size of a sheet of notebook paper. It’s filled with items that washed up on a beach in Japan — before the devastating earthquake. Some look like fishing lures my dad used to keep in his tackle box. Other look like small parts of brightly-colored plastic toys — something the ocean habitat certainly doesn’t need floating all over the place.
Like Matison-Horn, Maguire sometimes creates works of art with items donated by friends. Seems several of them know to gather washed up beach fare and bag it for her to add to her collection of materials. Once, she told me, a friend shared tiny starfish washed up in polluted waters. She’s keen on recycling objects that might otherwise land in oceans or other habitats.
A third artist, offering beautifully colored sets of pitchers and margarita glasses, is sharing their booth as well. We actually met her first, and were so pleased to find that all were truly gracious and committed to doing work that makes a difference for people and the planet. Her glassware would make a lovely Valentine’s Day gift for someone who loves to throw parties or entertain friends.
We met plenty of other artists too, all in white booths lining either side of Fifth Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale. Artist Mary Beier is showing works from Metalworks Art and “Nana” is rocking adorable knits hat for babies and children. Her handmade Cutie Pie Hats include Elmo, hedgehog, cupcake and many more designs.
On our way out, we stopped for kettle corn. It’s standard festival fare that always looks yummy but sometimes doesn’t taste nearly as tasty as it looks. But these folks made the best batch of kettle corn I’ve ever tasted. It was hot, fresh, lightly salted (on request) — and they served it with genuine warmth and enthusiasm.
Shopping for Valentine’s Day is all good and fine, but there’s no reason we can’t treat ourselves to a litte something too. Plenty of small shops throughout Old Town Scottsdale, featuring everything from fashionable baby gear to turquoise jewelry, are welcoming folks to explore their wares during the “Made in Arizona Festival.”
The area is also home to all sorts of art galleries and restaurants, so it’s easy to make a day of it. Just promise me you won’t go home sporting a kitten hat.
Note: The “Made in Arizona Festival” takes place 10am-5pm through Sunday on Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale between Scottsdale Rd. and Goldwater Blvd. Feel free to bring your old ties along — Toni Matison-Horn of “Ties 4 ALS” is happily accepting tie donations.
Coming up: Along the parade route, More fun with festivals