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MEET THE CUNNINGHAMS
Artifacts is a place where you can sense the past, present, and future all at once as you walk around the country shop and garden. Owners Beth and Paul Cunningham see themselves as “tenants” following in the footsteps of those who lived before them on the site of a 200-year-old tenant farm in Melrose, N.Y. At the same time, they’re continually bringing new life to the place in the shop, glass studio, and garden.
Beth and Paul share a love of art and nature. “Our whole lives have evolved and revolved around art,” Beth says. She has been fascinated with rocks, ancient rock art, cave drawings, petrified wood, and other natural and earthly elements since she was a child. In stained glass, Beth found the perfect medium to design and make pieces based on ancient symbols and messages, and on natural forces like how wind and water move and shape trees. A longtime teacher, Beth created the Artifacts glass studio and then decided to pursue her art full-time.
Paul’s art has its own connection of past and future, as he takes discarded items like pipes and wooden boxes and creates art pieces such as birdhouses using them. The art is sold at Artifacts.
The Cunninghams share another passion: They both love, in Beth’s words, to “go junking,” taking drives at least a day each week looking for stuff. Their finds become the antiques, collectables, and other intriguing merchandise at Artifacts, so those coming to the shop can find their own treasures. Resurrection is a constant theme at Artifacts. Outside the shop Beth and Paul are in the midst of creating their own “garden room,” the Glass Roots Garden, which has a pergola and other features that incorporate discarded things, as well as woodland paths and plantings of lavender and bee balm.
For Beth and Paul, Artifacts is about much more than stuff. It’s about the sense of enjoyment they can provide to customers who visit Artifacts and to buyers of their art. As Beth says, “If it makes a customer feel good, it makes me happy.”