BENNINGTON, VT. >> From the local mechanic and Staples cashier to the Home Depot paint person, everyone is rooting for Amy Cloud. The local artist is heading to Chicago next week for the One of a Kind art show and sale.
From April 29 to May 1, artists and craftspeople will come to The Mart, one of the world's largest commercial buildings and wholesale design centers. It measures two city blocks long and 25 stories high and has its own ZIP code, according to its website. There has been a winter show in December for 15 years and the spring addition is the first one this year.
Cloud, who specializes in illustrating hens and chickens on repurposed material such as shutter windows and old doors with acrylic paint applied to exhibit at the show in February and got accepted five days later. The cost to attend as an artist is $2,000.
"It's a complicated three page application and they just don't take anyone," she said. "Other people in Bennington applied and haven't gotten in."
Cloud is 63 years old living in North Bennington and earned a master's degree from Michigan State. Since then, she spent 20 years in New York City working in retail designing direct mail, which landed her the first Andy Award for print in 1980. She mentioned that notables Henry Kissinger, Joan Rivers, Deborah Norville and Liz Bishop are owners of her work.
"I've always made a living in art," she said. "I like to say that I am saving the Earth one painting at a time," citing her use of materials. "I sit outside in thin air and paint my chickens.
It's folk art — not a lot of deep meanings, but my customers, when I sell my paintings and they come back, year after year, they say 'Your paintings make me so happy' and that's really what I love."
Cloud said it's hard to get into the One of a Kind show because of the talented artists who have been there for years and continue to return.
Other than showcasing her painting, the artist said retailers scout out new designs to purchase, such as the home accessory and furniture store Crate & Barrel.
"A lot of businesses come to the show, not only the normal public," she said. "The show has fashion, one of a kind painting, glass, ceramic and jewelry. There's different kinds of art. It's a real good source for corporations."
Currently her farm-life-themed paintings are hanging at the South Street Cafe in Bennington and at the Welcome Center. Cloud said someone from Londonderry who is the largest distributor of liquor in the United States and has a small farm with four houses bought out all of her Welcome Center artwork.
For those who aren't sure of how to making a living through art, Cloud says to follow your passion and do what makes you happy.
"What drives you is the love of doing it. I never have a bad day when I paint and even Grandma Moses didn't start until she was in her 60s and it's a nice release," she said. "My problem is I never have enough time to finish my ideas that I want and I'm always saying 'that would be nice to paint, oh I like that.' When I first started off painting, I painted everything, and as I painted, if I did a chicken, it sold right away. This is my niche. Paint what you like and paint what makes you feel good and it's a chance to be outside, for me."
Find Cloud's artwork on Etsy with the store name "acloud."
Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-447-7567, ext. 118.