In July, Two Imagine Studios held an Open House to announce their new gallery in Farmington called “This Is It.” I traveled the backroads of Litchfield, Monmouth, Readfield, and Mt. Vernon passing Annabessacook Lake and beautiful farmlands to arrive. Meredith Mustard and Judy Tollefson share studios in a lovely red clapboard home surrounded by perennial gardens on land that Judy’s grandparents purchased over 100 years ago. Both the house and the gardens were designed by Judy, who also plants and maintains the gardens.
Their home, studios and artwork offer an explosion of color and creativity.
Offered for sale at the gallery are printed fabrics, paintings, books and journals, cards, monoprints, collages and wearables. A special sale of Rauma Strikkegarn—a colorful Norwegian wool yarn—is also available at half price.
Judy is an artist who designs, knits, gardens, needlepoints, sews, watercolors and creates digital art. She owns an amazing collection of wool gauntlet mittens she designed and knit over several years.
Meredith is painter, printmaker, bookmaker, calligrapher and fabric designer. She loves to play with words, and designs lettering that is “painterly” or “architectural” in nature.
The duo started collaborating forty years ago as calligraphers and designers in Berkeley, CA in their own award-winning graphics design firm called Moss, Foss and Mustard. They even had a storefront at one point. They loved working together and feeding each others’ creativity. About working with another artist, Meredith said, “There is nothing else like it.”
At some point, the two had a falling out and went separate ways. Meredith continued painting, and Judy started doing needlepoint in earnest for months on end, working daily and into the wee hours of the morning. She created original drawings of flowers and translated them with bold colors into needlepoint chair tops. She found the repetitive nature of stitching both creative, meditative, and helpful to processing her strong emotions around the apparent loss of Meredith.
Judy also realized that she could knit, watercolor, needlepoint, design and garden and wasn’t sure which path to travel. That’s when a local yarn shop owner in CA phoned to ask whether she would work there. Judy accepted and thought, “Okay, I’m a knitter.”
A chance encounter with the book MAGNIFICENT MITTENS by Anna Zilboorg inspired Judy to create her own designs for knitting gauntlet mittens—a long cuffed, highly-patterned mitten. Within a year and while living in a small cabin, she had knit 20 pairs for family members while her husband read to her. She also went on to design and kit Christmas stockings, which, after working with a New England rep, sold highly successfully through yarn shops for years. A downturn in the economy around 2009, when yarn shops were hit early and hard, impacted that effort.
Meanwhile, independently of each other, the two creative friends both moved East, Judy to Maine, and Meredith to Pennsylvania. When Meredith’s husband became ill, they sold the large stone barn they lived in and moved into a little house. “That’s when everything got smaller,” says Meredith. She began doing more printing, collage, and teaching. She also started reaching out to Judy, and after a time, both realized their creative partnership was worth healing. They started snail mailing, phoning and eventually visiting each other for art retreats. That lead to collaborating on a calendar in 2012, showing work together, and ultimately sharing studios in Maine. As Judy watched Meredith printing on paper one day, she said, “You know if you did that on fabric, I could make something.” These days, rather than knitting, Judy prefers designing and sewing outrageous clothing using Two Imagine painted fabrics.
Their July Open House was a celebration of mutual creativity, steadfastness, and heart, as community friends and family gathered to see what the pair has made.
Inside Two Imagine. A gallery of images.
Click on any image and with a bit of patience, you will see a self-running slideshow. Or roll your mouse over the images for a brief caption. (On a phone or tablet your experience may be different.)
Judy highly recommends the book: A PATTERN LANGUAGE by Christopher Alexander, Mike Fraser, et al. which she used in designing her Farmington home and describes as delving into the spiritual side of making.