“Look for a giant sculpture of a female figure in a bikini,” instructs owner Pat Campbell-Cozzi, giving directions to her Wildflower Village art gallery. “And be sure to look at the sign, too—it was painted by one of our artists.” That’s the kind of place Wildflower Village is: handmade and hands-on, with a definite streak of the playful. Here, you’ll find artists living on the premises and working in their studios, as well as displaying their art in the gallery.
In addition to the 4,000-square-foot gallery, which exhibits the works of 36 artists, Wildflower Village boasts a bed-and-breakfast, a coffee shop and a wedding chapel (they’re working on installing a webcam, so faraway friends can watch marriage ceremonies online). Classes and poetry readings are offered regularly. Saturday Outdoor Festivals, which take place on the first and third Saturday of the month, feature live music, refreshments and the chance to browse the outdoor stalls with everything from dichroic glass jewelry to textile art.
“I’m astounded at the quality of artists in this town,” says Campbell-Cozzi, sitting in her office. Friendly and efficient, she bustles around in search of articles and photographs; nicely dressed, with her hair pulled tightly back and her retro plastic-rimmed glasses, she looks like a museum curator. And, in a way, she is. Although she enjoys designing jewelry and sells her own embellished T-shirts, Campbell-Cozzi doesn’t consider herself an artist, preferring to promote the work of others.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to show work at reasonable prices,” says painter Petra Segraves von Falken, an artist-in-residence. Not only is she an artist, she’s also a satisfied customer, having met her husband, Stephen Segraves, while living at Wildflower Village. They married in the wedding chapel in June 2003 and continue to live and work on the premises.
Using a special liquid glass paint she developed with her husband, Petra creates large, colorful panels that resemble stained glass. Guided by a computer-rendered drawing, she applies many layers of the thin, transparent paint, gradually building up vivid colors; it can take up to three months to finish a set of panels. “Spawning Salmon,” on display in the gallery, is a bright, lively series depicting a school of fish. The intense reds and oranges and careful detailing of the scaly bodies leap out from the cool, bubbling blues and greens of the background. Sinuous lines and speckles in the water evoke currents and waves and create a feeling of energy and flow.
In his studio, ceramicist Stephen throws and glazes raku pottery. He specializes in crystalline glazed porcelain, a process in which crystals are grown on the surface of the pot during the firing process. Materials like cobalt, copper and iron lend rich, iridescent hues to the crystalline blooms. It’s considered one of the most difficult glazing processes to achieve, and Stephen, who has been making pots for 32 years, estimates that he is one of only a dozen or so potters in the country who have mastered the technique. His “Caramel and Teal” series juxtaposes tall, graceful forms with warm, inviting color; highly reflective, jagged teal crystals burst like fireworks against a golden-brown background.
Offering unique, locally-made art in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, Wildflower Village has something for just about everyone. But that wasn’t the initial intention. Ten years ago, Campbell-Cozzi and her husband, Chuck Cozzi, bought the property, intending to create affordable rental housing.
“I wanted to retire," laughs Campbell-Cozzi, "but it never worked out."