Get into the Christmas spirit at Gallery Cui-ui’s annual Bead Art Show

Jill Atkins’ “WILD Flowers.”

Jill Atkins’ “WILD Flowers.”

Photo By David Robert

You just want to touch them. Run the slinky beads through your fingers. Slip them over your head. Cradle the glossy glass strands in your palm.

Bead art is back, baby.

Gallery Cui-ui’s second annual Bead Art Show is underway, and the downtown gallery is filled with necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pillows and purses.

“I think there’s tremendous diversity in the work, as you can see, from precious to semi-precious [stones] to wrapped rocks,” says gallery co-owner Pam Bobay. “Each one has its form, beauty, texture and uniqueness.”

Bobay says that one of the cool things about the show is its range of artists and the openness of the artists to try things that will please Cui-ui’s jewelry-wearing clientele.

“Several [of the] artists stretched their creativity,” she says. “They really worked to make things that will please people.”

Yet the work also reflects the personalities and talents of the artists, Bobay says.

“The work is all so personal to the artists,” she says, and then laughs. “It’s a woman thing.”

“But we have a couple guys now,” adds co-owner Ann Fullerton.

Kathleen Mudge’s bead necklaces are standout pieces. These large necklaces—too large to wear without a ton of gutsiness—would work just as well hanging on one’s wall as around one’s neck. Beads are coiled into thick, snake-like masses, with more beads hanging from the coils. More conservative bead-wearers have plenty to choose from, though, including Lynne Anderson’s delicate silvery strands. I also liked the colorful Southwestern flavor of Michael Madigan’s green turquoise bracelets.

It looks like things are going quite well for the Cui-ui ladies. Their colorful and eclectic little shop, always brimming with a variety of artwork, is no longer big enough to fit their growing gallery needs. They’ve recently purchased the River Gallery, a larger space across the street."The plan is to take our time over there,” Fullerton says. “[Former owner Jan Douglass] has a very established and loyal customer base. Jan’s done a wonderful job.”

Bobay and Fullerton want to gradually bring the work of out-of-town artists into their new space, while still catering to the River Gallery’s fan base. As of now, they plan to keep the current Cui-ui spot, filling it with the work of local artists.

For now, it’s all about beads—big beads, little beads, Native American-style beads, African-style beads.

“We were just in awe the first couple days [after the opening]," Bobay says. "It was like Christmas."