State of the Art
Experiments in phosphorescence. Bowls inspired by the moon. Whimsical sculptures in a palette reminiscent of garden flowers. See why Jeff Blandford’s unique influences and inventive approach make him stand-out in Saugatuck’s arts scene.
Everything about artist Jeff Blandford is a little unexpected. Pry into his influences, and he lists mid-century modern furniture design, science, and his garden. Ask him about the places he’s displayed his pottery, glass, and metal work, and he’ll tell you about the time he created wine decanters and cannonballs for the “A Modernist in the Colony” exhibit at George Washington’s war-time quarters, the historic Morris-Jumel Mansion in Manhattan. You can see the results of his experimental approach at his Jeff Blandford Gallery in downtown Saugatuck—one of many studios and galleries worth exploring in the area.
What’s great about owning a gallery in Saugatuck?
For being such a small town, people are so aware of the arts. But it’s approachable. I have people come in who’ve never visited a gallery before. They find themselves asking a lot of questions and learning. I want people to appreciate the design and function in my work, but to see the whimsy too. I often say that if Charles and Ray Eames and Dr. Seuss had a baby it would be me. Maybe with some elements of Tim Burton.
What’s unique about the local arts community?
There’s something for everyone. You can stroll around the galleries, go to great restaurants, or see a show at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. On Friday nights in the summer, artists at Ox-Bow School of the Arts open their studios for demonstrations and displays of their work. And for me, as an artist, there’s something special about walking down the street, seeing other artists that I know, and feeling like I’m part of a bigger community.
Which local artists and events should people check out?
I recommend stopping by Peachbelt Studio, an artist-owned gallery in a historic schoolhouse in Fennville. Dawn Stafford’s oil paintings are fabulous. A great glassblower and metalworker is Jessica Bohus. She was in the top 10 during ArtPrize in Grand Rapids a few years ago. Her work is often found at Good Goods. Other can’t-miss galleries I recommend are James Brandess Studio and Gallery, Roan & Black, Water Street Gallery, and Armstrong DeGraaf International Fine Art.