Guests can find more than a few great pieces of art in Samantha Claar’s Gallery in City Market, directly above Belford’s Restaurant. Bright paintings and prints of Gullah life have saturated her luminous gallery since she acquired the space, but this May the gallery will feature a whole new set of art—Gullah dolls!
“Although most of us are adults now, I have discovered that we are never too old to play with dolls, enjoy them and honor their place in our lives,” said Claar.
On Friday, May 6, 2016, Samantha Claar will premiere a new collection of Gullah dolls at her FineFolk Gallery in Downtown Savannah, also known as the Gullah Living Gallery, (in Studio 1A) with a tea party from 4 to 8 p.m., complete with teacup cocktails and tiny sandwiches that visitors can enjoy while shopping.
A specially-picked selection of adult and child Black Art Dolls from two premier doll makers, Genya from Charleston and DMcB of Pittsburgh, will be on display and for sale at this event, which also serves as an introduction to Claar’s new “Wee People” clothespin dolls. Her new dolls feature hand-painted faces and an eclectic array of re-purposed and unique outfits.
“They are made to do more than sit on a shelf, although they can,” noted Claar, who adds magnetic backs and brooch pins to the clothespins so the Wee People are more versatile.
Along with the new clothespin dolls is an array of antique and vintage dolls, bottle dolls and “soft sculpture” dolls made by two members of the Gullah community.
Genya, who is actively involved in the her community as a Gullah language speaker for The Gullah Gals, makes the traditional Gullah bottle dolls, which are on display in Claar’s art gallery in Savannah. They are created with a coke, beer or wine bottle and an armature for the body and head, then dressed in styles that mirror traditional West African dress. Vivid colors and delicious fabrics create the perfect kitchen lady from the past and the festival participant from the present. Tall and stately, these dolls are the fashion models of Claar’s collection, bringing joy and color to wherever they are placed.
DMcB creates “soft sculpture” dolls, which are seated and can be posed, for Claar’s FineFolk Gallery. They are dressed in clothes of the early 1900s, reminiscent of a slower pace and simpler time in the Lowcountry. With a line of stuffed child dolls, Gullah Girls and Boys, DMcB offers a wide range of dolls with skin tones and hairstyles, dressed for play and named traditionally. Though they are called child dolls, these one-of-a-kind art dolls are not suitable for small children.
“The FineFolk Gallery is delighted to offer these amazing doll selections in Savannah,” said Claar. “We look forward to seeing you at our opening reception or during our regular hours in May and June.”
The dolls will be on display throughout May and June and the doors to the FineFolk Gallery will be open late on May 14, 2016 and June 11, 2016 for the Second Saturday Art Walk through the Historic District of Savannah. The gallery is located in Studio One A, upstairs at City Market, 309 W. Saint Julian St. For more information, call Samantha Claar at (404) 966-3647 or click here visit her website.