By Nancy Tannler
Throughout time the curious among us have had a fascination with paranormal and other mysterious worldly happenings. Almost every religious or spiritual practice has a mystical theme as part of their dogma with a set of incantations to help put one in touch with this amorphous side of life. For many, this mystery makes life more beautiful and ethereal.
The recently opened Fernie Brae Magical Gallery & Shoppe at 4035 SE Hawthorne Blvd. sets the stage for anyone with a little imagination to be transported to another world – one of faeries, elves, gnomes and other fanciful things that reside just outside our direct view.
The call to represent the realm of faeries happened to Bryonie Arnold during her senior year of college where she was studying as an art major. She became fascinated with the characters and theme of the Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
Although her imaginings for the divas of the forest developed when she was much younger. “I spent all of my free time climbing up and hanging out in trees. I would hide special treasures in the trees (especially keys that unlocked boxes that held more treasures) and I would make magic wands from twigs and branches. It was natural when I finally gave into the faeries and let them guide my expression,” she said.
Bryonie began sculpting characters from the realm and became familiar with the works of Brian and Wendy Froud.
Brian Froud is one of the pre-eminent faerie artists in the world, working with puppeteer Jim Henson as conceptual designer on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth films.
He has sold millions of his faerie books with favorites Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairybook, Good Faeries/Bad Faeries, The Faeries’ Oracle and Lady Cottington’s Fairy Album.
Wendy Froud was making dolls from the time she was five-years old creating a collection she couldn’t buy anyplace else. Her dolls were centaurs and satyrs, gnomes, unicorns and faeries. She worked as a sculptor and puppet builder for Jim Henson and fabricated Yoda for The Empire Strikes Back movie.
“I got to know Wendy Froud when I started taking her sculpting classes. Her son, Toby started teaching with her, and when he and his then-fiancee moved to Portland, we became close friends and all of the Frouds became second family,” Bryonie said.
They have encouraged her vision of opening a gallery/shop that features their favorite mythical creatures as the supporting theme. Fernie Brae has Froud originals, rare for her to sell since they mostly sell through their own websites and galleries.
The whole acquisition of this space on Hawthorne, formerly The Blue Butterfly, has an auspicious beginning.
Bryonie and Eric, her husband and partner, first met Michael Parrot, owner of the Blue Butterfly when they came to Portland several years ago.
At the time, Michael’s shop was located at 37th and SE Hawthorne where he sold amazing furniture carved out of the trunks of trees and recycled wood from Bali.
They became acquainted when Bryonie purchased a chair she knew someday would be a focal point for her faerie shop. “We were sleeping on the floor on an air mattress with no furniture but I had to have the chair,” she said.
Years later, they ended up buying the building from Parrot to open Fernie Brae.
Even if faeries aren’t your thing, it is worth a visit to check out how well-done the remodel is.
Carpenter Eric Arnold has added fine detail to the rooms enhancing the mantel and shelves, stripping and replacing the molding. Much of the work is handcarved and well-executed.
A friend painted every room and gave the walls a treatment that makes them look ancient and it’s the perfect setting to display the different artists.
Along with work of the Frouds, the gallery has sculptures and drawings from other renowned artists.
Rima Staines, an artist who lives in the UK, uses many different medias in her attempt to “build a gate through the hedge that grows along the boundary between this world and that.”
Allan Lee is one of the masterminds behind the sets for The Hobbit and the anniversary edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and has work here His daughter Virginia Lee, Marja Lee, Danielle Barlow, Terri Windling, David Wyatt and Armorel Hamilton and other local artists are here too, adding jewelry, faerie houses, candles, giclees, tinctures and essences.
Beginning in November, a children’s story time starts on Saturdays from 11 – 11:30 am; Tarot Reading available every Thursday 1 – 4 pm, and Faerie Hair Friday is the first Friday of every month (get sparkles in your hair).
There will be a Tree lighting ceremony on Saturday December 5 during the Holiday Stroll and decorating crafts for the tree all that day.