The Beaufort Art Association is pleased to bring you “Polished and Eclectic,” an exhibition of sterling silver and vintage beads by featured artisans Nancy Kates and Susan Palmer. The show will run from February 20 to March 31, 2012 with a celebration on Saturday, March 17 during Spring ArtWalk, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery, 913 Bay Street. The original opening reception was scheduled during the fire truck robbery, subsequent tragedy, and tornado watch on February 24. The exhibition will include handcrafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings−from casual fare to more ornate showpieces.

A joint show made perfect sense to Nancy and Susan, not because of the similarities in their work, but because of the ways that their differences complement each other. While their jewelry pieces contain metal and beads, each woman has staked out a particular area of expertise that will be on display at the exhibition.

It’s not surprising that there are similarities in the ways that these artisans approach their craft. Both started developing their signature styles of jewelry making while living in Latin American countries. Susan’s journey started in Peru over 30 years ago. She and her husband have lived in five or six countries, where she would build relationships with the local vendors. Through these connections she would get some beads that were centuries old and some beads that had been carefully hammered by indigenous people the week before, creating an eclectic flair that can be seen throughout Susan’s pieces.

Nancy and her husband spent roughly a decade in Mexico for his job, during which time Nancy took classes from the local artisans. Though she had been making jewelry all her life, it was here, she says, that she met a woman who was doing work very much like Nancy’s own, but combining it with metal. Fascinated, Nancy bought a few of the woman’s pieces and made up her mind to learn the process. She started taking classes in which she learned how to solder and forge sterling silver. Her collection is a combination of unique beads and polished handmade silver pieces.

The women have one very important thing in common, though. They understand what jewelry means to Beaufortonians. It has to be eclectic because it has to run the gamut, appropriate for “anything from a wedding dress to Levis and a sweatshirt on the weekends,” as Susan puts it. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but there’s so much variety in the “Polished and Eclectic” exhibit that it’s hard not to find something for everyone.

“Polished and Eclectic: Sterling Silver and Vintage Beads by Nancy Kates and Susan Palmer,” an exhibition of jewelry, will run from February 20 to March 31, 2012 with a celebration on Saturday evening, March 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during Spring ArtWalk at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery, 913 Bay Street.