The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts welcomes the Lincoln County artist team of John Curtis Crawford and Bridget Wolfe to the Coastal Oregon Visual Artist Showcase at the Newport Visual Arts Center. Their exhibition, “Fairy Woodland,” will feature small, multi-media fairy houses and will be on display from August 5 to October 1. A First Friday opening reception will be held August 5, 5-7pm, at the VAC, with the artists speaking about their work at 6:30pm during the reception.
According to John Curtis Crawford and Bridget Wolfe—caretakers of “The Enchanted World of Fairy Woodland,” located between Newport and Toledo—fairy houses are neither “made” or “handcrafted.” Rather, each house is “born.” The disparate pieces of each house, such as twigs and branches, stones, sand, shells and sea glass, come together on a bed of sand, from which the house emerges as coherent and unique creation. According to the artists, each Fairy House begins with the discovery of a twig that shouts, “Choose me to be in a Fairy House.” Other raw materials are selected for their personality and energy. Plaster of Paris and hot-melt glue are used to build walls and keep the various architectural elements together to last outdoors, through even the hardest of Oregon Coast winters. Once built and installed, fairy houses act like a radio tuner, transmitting the voices, visions and vicissitudes of fairies themselves.
“There are a lot of people who buy Fairy Houses and are charmed by them but who don’t believe in fairies,” says John Curtis Crawford. “To them it is a pleasurable fantasy or a fun thing to engage their children’s imaginations. But whether they know it or not, the fairy houses have the capacity to take them to a place of real mysticism in which, over time, unusual things happen and they are gently led by a fairy’s childlike hand.”
Over the years, John Curtis Crawford and Bridget Wolfe have developed over 1,300 fairy houses. Crawford does the home building itself, while Wolfe interprets the materials and writes the stories generated for each house. They regularly hear back from customers from around the world who tell how the houses have drawn fairies and inspiration to their homes and gardens.
“Part of how I arrived at building fairy houses was through what I know of masks,” Crawford says. “The Northwest coast Indians, as well as numerous other tribal people throughout the world, composed the design of a mask to carry the spirit energy of the creature they would like to become. Their attempt is not to look like a particular creature but to energetically become that creature.”
The campus known as Fairy Woodland sits on 22 acres of Douglas fir and meadows, and, according to the proprietors, the entirety of the unincorporated land along Yaquina Bay is inhabited by fairies. “We’re in the netherworlds,” Wolfe says.
Crawford and Wolfe set up their current Fairy Woodland in 2002, after moving to Oregon from the Sherman Oaks region in Los Angeles. Crawford began his career as a puppeteer at the age of 12 and has been working in the arts and entertainment industry for most of his life. He has designed and constructed magical creatures and miniature habitats for stage, television and feature motion pictures Crawford’s credits include creating characters for Jim Henson’s Muppets and various industry awards, including one from the Cannes Film Festival for Special Effects.
Bridget Wolfe is a teacher, writer, storyteller, personal coach and guide. She has taught and run groups in Shamanism in the United States, England and Ireland. She holds MA degrees in English and clinical psychology and is a licensed marriage and family therapist.
“These fairy houses are all about hospitality,” says John Curtis Crawford. “Before we can extend hospitality to another, we have to know that the other exists and there is a real possibility that they might come by to visit.”
Speaking of hospitality, Fairy Woodland is open to non-fairy visitors as well. Connect with the artist team of John Curtis Crawford and Bridget Wolfe via their website to schedule a tour. Four-day workshops, during which participants construct fairy houses, are also scheduled for July 21-24 and October 13-16 (Oregon), and September 2-5 (Ashville, NC).
The COVAS Showcase is open Tuesday-Saturday, noon-4:00pm.