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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Riches Plenty at 18th RAGS Wearable Art Sale and Show

Above: The beautiful showroom at Larson's Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma has been temporarily transformed into a fabulous boutique for the 18th annual RAGS Wearable Art Sale & Show March 8-11 in Fife, WA. All photos copyright 2012 by Mizu M. Sugimura.

One of my favorite events on the calendar is the annual RAGS Wearable Art Sale & Show where it's possible to admire and purchase artist created fashions and accessories that take the clothes in your closet to fabulous new heights every year!

There's only one more day to catch this year's event which runs through tomorrow Sunday, March 11, from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at Larson's Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma, 1701 Alexander Avenue E., in Fife.
An imaginative collection of fun felted hats and wraps created and designed by Irina Francis at Harbor Fibers LLC highlights the wealth of fashion possibilities for purchase at RAGS!

RAGS has been a staple of stylish South Sound shoppers for the last 18 years while raising some good money to benefit the YWCA Pierce County's Domestic Violence Prevention & Intervention Programs. I was introduced to this dazzling event a few years ago thanks to several generous and fashion minded friends. First-time attendee? You may feel much the same after taking a personal look at this year's brilliant line-up.

Above: Textile artist Irina Francis and one of her many delicate and feather light fiber masterpieces!

Today I was captivated by the explosion of color, pattern and texture particularly in the area of shawls and other light wraps which populated this year's show. Notable artist in this category is textile artist Irina Francis of Harbor Fibers LLC. While I'll admit to already having three or four woven and knit wraps in my closet, it was easy to argue with myself after seeing what artists had to that I may well have to open my pocketbook and add that number.

Above: A lovely hand-beaded Kumihimo necklace with silver accents by Seattle artist Carole Grisham of Hiyama Studios.

Joan Joachims Designs features custom one-of-a-kind agate necklaces to die for. Agate you ask? Bling? What this artist does is evavate these otherwise humble stones into the stratosphere by encasing the natural beauty of each in an original designed wax model which will be later cast into metal. Red carpet worthy? I kid you not.

Another RAGS standout this year are beaded necklaces in the Kumihimo style by West Seattle artist Carole Grisham of Hiyama Studios whose creations would add an exotic as well as sophisticated polish to any working woman's professional or evening wardrobe.

Which brings me to what I like most about the annual RAGS show as a attendee - the chance to meet, mingle, chat and salute some of the most innovative movers and shakers in our area.
Seriously! Artists are all about ideas. In their own way, artists break new ground and point out the way for others to higher elevations and new territories. It is actually part of their wider, community focused job description which in contemporary society has been often overlooked.

You don't have to hold a big title, run a business that's a media darling or be a highly sought after member of your local Chamber of Commerce to say a friendly hello to these wonderful citizens. The artists featured at RAGS are more often highly approachable. They are friendly, enjoy meeting people and talking about their work.

During my first year of attendance, I ran into Pierce County artist Lisa Kinoshita who was featured at RAGS. We had a brief conversation. I admired her work. Soon after the event her name started popping up in the fashion columns of the local newspaper, and then a few nationally favorite big-name monthly standards.

As it turns out Kinoshita's skills were not confined to jewelry which underscores the level and caliber of the talent featured at RAGS. More recently Kinoshita was one of a handfull of local artists selected to create a larger artwork of the civic kind by the City of Fife, WA. Whether this year's crop of artists will produce another Kinoshita is a moot point. Then again, you never know...

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