At Artizanns, you’ll find pottery, glass, jewelry, wood, photography, painting, fabric, sculptures, and so much more. That’s what it says on Suzanne Farley’s rack card and every word of it is true. Suzanne is the proprietor of Artizanns, a shop that specializes in gifts from the Finger Lakes, located at 118 North Main Street in the village of Naples. The flipside of that card reads: “Our gallery offers so many original, affordable and imaginative creations from 200 Finger Lakes artisans, you’ll find yourself returning again, and again.” There’s no doubting the validity of that statement either.
Suzanne opened Artizanns 12 years ago after serving a 16-year stint as the executive director of the Naples Grape Festival. In that role, she sought and recruited artists and vendors who produced top quality arts and crafts, and managed a first-rate juried art show. It was during her tenure there that she realized a local gallery was needed to serve the region, and historic Naples was the perfect venue. After conferring with some local artists who agreed with her, Suzanne was off and running.
Artizanns started out by representing 35 artists in a tight 650-square-foot gallery on Mill Street, but within two years, it was representing 125 artisans. Suzanne has been at her present location – a converted 1,200-square-foot, 10-room, two-story house – for the last 10 years, and currently represents 200 artists. A stickler for quality in every medium, she does not handle any baubles, knick-knacks or trinkets. Every item, regardless of price, has to be made in the Finger Lakes, be visually attractive, and of lasting value. Her exhibits are organized by category and are freshened periodically on a rotating basis. Each room in her shop is dedicated to a different medium and during the course of the year, Suzanne determines what is selling and what isn’t and makes inventory adjustments accordingly during her annual March sale.
Her interest in the arts began years ago when she spent time in the dark room perfecting her love for black-and-white 35mm photography. “I had many talented art friends but managing the Grape Fest for all those years introduced me to all different kinds of media from extremely talented artists,” she told me. Having no time to indulge and interact with those artists while she was busy managing the festival, Suzanne was inspired to think about eventually opening a gallery of her own.
The range of artistic media at Artizanns leaves no stone unturned – a pun intended. Suzanne represents 20 different jewelers, some of whom incorporate polished pebbles or valuable gemstones into their work. One artist specializes in precious metal clay, a newer art form that originated in Japan. Pure silver, copper, or bronze are ground into a fine powder and mixed with an organic binder and water. The substance that results can then be sculpted, molded or textured, and cut into almost any shape. Once it’s fired, the finished product is a purer form than sterling, and is beautiful and strong as well. Precious metal clay designs are available in both stock and custom orders.
Suzanne’s stable of artisans also includes 20 potters whose products range from tableware to decorator lamps, and at least as many photographers who feature Finger Lakes scenic landscapes in a variety of image sizes. Some are even printed on metal. Other artists specialize in various forms of stained glass and unique wood products that are either decorative, functional, or both.
The name for Artizanns came about during an early morning golf game with friends who tossed out suggestions. One of them incorporated Suzanne’s nickname, “Zann,” with various derivatives of artist. “Artizanns” just stuck. Her two biggest wishes a dozen years ago were that Artizanns would become a household name and that people could pronounce it correctly. It seems that both of those wishes have come true.
As an entrepreneur, Suzanne knows that any successful small business depends on local support, and so she carries arts and craft products that are not available anywhere else, especially in big-box stores. She has made customer service her top priority and often arranges for artists and patrons to work together in order to create a custom design or one-of-a-kind item. She knows that consistency in her gallery’s image and hours of operation ensure repeat business and for that reason, she’s open almost daily all year around. She’s also willing to accommodate a customer’s schedule, even on holidays if necessary. See artizanns.com for more information.
Artizanns also participates in a variety of different community events throughout the year in conjunction with the Naples Valley Visitor’s Association (NVVA). Suzanne is currently involved in her first annual Naples Busk & Balter, which will take place on Saturday, June 11. During the event, folks can enjoy live street music and dancing in and around the village, along with cider, beer, wine and grape juice tastings. Additional information will become available on the NVVA website and Facebook pages, as it develops.
But the bottom line is this: If you’re looking for a unique gift or distinctive home décor item, just reread the opening sentence of this article and then head for Artizanns. You can browse the gallery for hours and find things that you’ve never even imagined existed. It truly is a treasure trove in Naples.
Busk & Balter
Naples Valley Visitors Association (NVVA) is hosting the first annual Busk & Balter in the Village of Naples on Saturday, June 11. “Busking” is the art of street performance and “balter” means “to dance artlessly, without particular skill or grace. From 1:30 to 3 p.m. there will be musicians and other types of performers at several locations on Main Street. Other merchants in the downtown area will feature tastings of wine, cider, beer, grape juice and food tastings for a $5 donation to the NVVA (the performances are free). The music doesn’t stop at 3, as many of the Naples restaurants and wineries will be hosting their own performers beginning at 3 p.m. and going well into the evening. Restaurants and stores will all be open with event specials.