The first is the decoy carver Jonathan J. Dowdall from Burlington Flats, N.Y. Jonathan was a cabinetmaker who has been carving his own decoys since he was a boy. He uses his own decoys to hunt, so he knows how these functional sculptures are supposed to work. Holding up one of his birds, Jonathan explained how, in the working models, he adds weights to the underside to get them to sit naturally in the water. The carving on his decoys is remarkable; the painting superb.
The other folk artist is Walter Fleming, who has been a tinsmith for more than 25 years. I used to have him come to Cooperstown to teach the craft at our annual Seminars on American Culture back in the 1990s. His booth had a lively array of miniature weathervanes and silhouettes. Walter also took some time to explain the workings of an ingenius French-designed automatic candle snuffer that he has reproduced.
One artist in wood, the other in metal. Both interpreting the long-standing practice of creating of useful sculpture and both grounded in a solid craft tradition. If you enjoy the artistic side of American traces and crafts, these are two contemporary artists you will want to see. The Harvest Festival runs through tomorrow, Sunday, September 13.