Keuka Arts Festival winners announced

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Danielle Pagani

A potter from the Rochester area received top honors at the 2014 Keuka Arts Festival.

Danielle Pagani grew up in suburban Rochester. “Being the adventurous type I was, and loving nature as much as I do, I would spend hours with my neighborhood friends building miniature longhouses, swinging on vines, and playing with the clay that my neighbor had dug out of his pond. Needless to say, I was covered in clay from an early age.”

Her artistic career began early. “Around the age of 5 or so, I made a beaver out of clay and I received ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’ from all my fellow kindergartners. My passion for mud really took off in high school when I took a throwing class. I was immediately sucked into it, and soon I was spending hours at the wheel. I loved that you could see improvements in your work and that it was more important than a silly little grade. I was passionate about my craft and I wanted to attend a university that truly was dedicated to what I loved. What better place than Alfred University?”

Pagani graduated from Alfred in June and is now teaching at the Turk Hill Craft School. “I work with kids all day long, which is exhausting, but exciting at the same time,” says Pagani. “I love the satisfaction they get from being able to make something from clay and watching the students enjoy clay as much as I did at their age inspires me to continue on.”

Pagani is attracted to detail-oriented work, drawing inspiration from the smallest things, such as lace, micro-organisms, textiles, and the buds on trees. “All these things seem to find their way onto my pots. The pots are designed for specific situations where patterning can echo the small everyday things that are interesting to me. I combine observations about my surroundings with elements from folk art to achieve drawings that are abstract but vaguely recognizable.”

Second Place: Cordell Cordaro’s colorful crowd of characters might be mistaken for elegant extras from the Great Gatsby or Casablanca – a vignette of an intimate moment in a playful adventure story or the glossy, fashionable veneer of the elegant life. Others hail from fairytales and take on a magical quality.

Stylistically, Cordaro’s party-scene works show elegant figures with anatomical distortions that convey emotional truths, but his gestural brushstrokes and playful, mythic injections make his works firmly his own. Cordaro’s work includes paintings, ink drawings, and combinations of the two. He participates in shows in New York City and Florida, and his work has also reached audiences in California, Singapore, and the U.K.

Third Place: Randy Hughes has been designing and making unique handcrafted pieces for over 30 years. It started as a hobby and quickly developed into a passion that became CKC Woodworkx. In his current collection, he works primarily in wood, but is not afraid to experiment with other materials such as nuts and antlers. He has also applied traditional wood-turning techniques to plastics and paper.