So much art: Beaver Bay woman celebrates another family fair with childrenMarion Gray is the grandmother of art in her family. It’s a family so prolific in painting, sculpting, music, mixed media, and carving that they decided a few years ago to start an art fair.
Marion Gray is the grandmother of art in her family. It’s a family so prolific in painting, sculpting, music, mixed media, and carving that they decided a few years ago to start an art fair.
Gray, who lives on Lax Lake Road up from Beaver Bay, was picked up by son Dan last week, headed for what is now the annual Gray’s Art Fair in Mahtomedi, a suburb of St. Paul. Gray has eight children and the expected growing extended family that finds art at the center of it all.
In 2008, the family decided to help Marion clear out some of the clutter in her studio home and have a family art sale. It will include 16 family members representing four generations, including work by an 8-year-old. Look for mugs, bowls, bird baths, jewelry, paintings, lamps, music and, yes, even a sink.
This year, the family will be thankful that Marion made it unscathed to the third event that began Thursday. She fell last year, breaking her wrist while setting up for the show. She had cataract surgeries on both eyes over the winter. She’s 87 now and better than ever as she preps for the show. “I wake up in the morning with so many ideas that I can’t wait to get started.”
Mahtomedi is where the family was raised. Marion moved up to Beaver Bay 14 years ago after another son found a job at the Veteran’s Home in Silver Bay. Her husband had died and she was looking to move close to a family member. “I like being out there,” she said of her time on the North Shore.
The same could be said of her eclectic work, which can be seen at the new Hodge Podge Gifts & Crafts in Beaver Bay.
Gray’s mantra in finding an art niche is to keep honing “anything you can do. Anything you can think of.”
“You take an idea and it grows,” she said.
Her work includes lamps with intricate clay figure dioramas and folk-art pots obviously sprouted by an expansive imagination. Her favorite characters are bears, which she knows well from observance at her home. “Lots of things from the wild,” she said.
She paints in acrylic, water colors, and charcoal, and carves wood.
She admits that things began accumulating at her house. Add to that another family member moving in to her guest house/studio and it was time to start weeding. She said the ambitious art fair was a “surprise” but has proven to be helpful. “I had to get rid or it,” she said. “I had pottery all over the house.”
The art fair is a family reunion of sorts, Dan Gray said. He teaches pottery at Mahtomedi High School. Marion’s sisters will be coming from across the country and, in a way, it will be like old times in Mahtomedi with her daughter’s house full of children.
“Our house was the open house,” Dan said of growing up on the east side of White Bear Lake.
Marion held court and one specific memory of the times there. “Wet suits all over the place,” she said with a chuckle.
If you go
South for some art
- Gray’s Art Fair runs now from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday at 58 Iris St. in Mahtomedi.