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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Road to FUNTOWN

The road to Jody Battaglia's "Funtown" is peppered with politely cheery polka dotted signs that say things like..."keep going, you're almost there"... "you can do it"... "lead your you own parade!"...
These are the roadsigns Jody and her work have always urged me to read. Her art cheers me; her creations are the toys that entertain, mystify and cajole the kid at heart in all of us. They are happy stuff; my most favorite things.

Jody Battaglia has created Funtown -- the imaginary community where all of her creations reside in harmony with a bit of silly drama for added fun. She runs the place, bespectacled in cherry red glasses and dressed in a jacket that would make the "Music Man" green with envy. She has inhabited her realm with a band of personalities she has concocted from wool felt, velveteen and mohair...along with a massive dose of imagination and wit. Their names speak volumes to their character attributes... "Dandy Ducky Long Legs" a personal favorite.
I met Jody in 1997 through one of her customers. I was visiting my gal pal Maggie in Atlanta and she asked me to take a ride with her to pick up some fun goodies from Jody. When the door opened there she was, part Willy Wonka, part The Flying Nun...
Her house is a magical place, a diorama adorned with layers of treasures and old bits of toys that weave a mood that even good Saint Nick would covet. It's Christmas Eve, Easter and Halloween all at once. Her beloved sailors salute, yummy anthropomorphic fruit and veggie people tempt the eyes, and collections of vintage holiday treasures are everywhere in the most captivating of displays....then there are the candy containers, the hula dolls, more sailors, old bears, gollies, folk art beauties....oohh so wonderful. Shelves of old books show her love for the golden age of children's literature and illustration.
....her dining room table was encrusted with her toys. I was instantly smitten. I had to pick each one up, cradle it and absorb it....I bought a sweet girl monkey peeking out from beneath the brim of an upturned hat...the next time we met, her first Santa and a wee little elf. A love affair had begun.

In 1979 Jody launched her business, "Beary Best Friends". First she made teddy bears, then a long line of friends, companions, dolls and toys followed all paving the way to Funtown. Over the years she has designed for Boyds Bears, and now has a line of reproduction designs with Edinburgh. Her original creations are all made in her home in Marietta, I am fortunate to have many of them that I have collected over the years ... they are some of my greatest treasures.
Jody offers her work on an very exclusive basis at select Folk Art and Teddy Bear shows and her website...and I am thrilled that she is able to do some limited edition originals for us each year. Jody has been our featured artist at two of our events and, with any luck, we'll be able to lure her back for on Annual Spring Soiree in 2008. We're also hoping that she makes progress with a publisher for her book....
Jody has a fabulous sense of personal style and charm. Jody is modest, always quick with a self-effacing comment, but don't be fooled...she is whip smart and has a better vocabulary than the most seasoned copy editor at the Chicago Sun Times. Did I mention that she is Cracker Jack cute, and if any knows that cuteness counts, it's Jody.
She is an intoxicating, fantastically festive companion, a cross between a majorette, a cruise director and a stand up comedienne. She is my cheerleader, my confidant and my friend. Without Jody I would not be in business, I would not be writing this blog, I would not be where I am, or who I am. Jody has been a constant source of encouragement since we met.
She has helped me, inspired me and taught me to pay it forward.
To underestimate what she has done, not only for me but for so many in the realm of folk art, would be criminal...and some tottering but spiffy little Constable from Funtown just might detain us for questioning!
Three cheers for Jody! Please join me in saying....Hip Hip Hooray.
xxoo Jen O'Connor


Kingfisher Farm said...

Jen, Jody is indeed, a PEACH!!! Hugs, Pam

diane allison-stroud said...

jody sounds just as wonderful as her pieces, you have a wonderful friend in her. i'm glad i signed up for your email updates, fun to be surprised!

Debbee Thibault said...

I just adore Jody! She has such a great whit about her. I would love to live in her "Fun Town." I think her little characters are so clever and they bring delight to so many..... I am a big fan and have collected my beloved pieces over the years. I always told her that she is the modern day stieff.(Truly)

Hugs and kisses from Debbee Thibault

Dara said...

Jody is as delightful and fabulous as her pieces. She is most imaginative and oh so much fun!!! I love her wonderful sense of humor and covet the Halloween pieces of hers that I own....they stay on display all year long...I just can't put them away!!!!

Lori said...

hip hip hooray!!! i love her creations, very sweet and whimsical!!!

Diane Duda said...

I just made a visit to Funtown and think that the Little Blue Bun is just about the cutest thiing I've ever seen!!!

Michelle Legler said...

Those sweet little faces are adorable!!! I just want to pinch them! :-)

Unknown said...

Jody is just fabulous. She humors me and my love for her creations. I have a bear from the early 1980's that she made named "Charlie" that I talk about all the time. I've been with her at shows and have had trouble concentrating on selling my own things because I just sit and play with hers. She is too wonderful for words!

The Feathered Nest said...

Jen, I just have to tell you what a wonderful thing it must be to be surrounded by all these amazing pieces of artwork all of the time!! You have such an amazing eye and seem to "know" when an artist has that special something. I love to look in on your blog and see all that's new! xxoo, Dawn

Anonymous said...

I love, Love, LOve, LOVe, LOVE JODY!!!! Her creations are as fun and as cute as she is. I always find myself debating about who's going to go home with me... one of her cute bunnies or maybe an elephant.... no, no, one of her kitties. I love her kitties... I tried for the longest time to take Jen's black kitty (in a smashing green outfit and red shoes) but I just had to get my own because she wasn't going to give it up. I can't blame her I wouldn't have given it up either :)
Thanks Jen for introducing me to Jody and her wonderful, happy, fun, and imaginative creations.


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