Marina Zavalova, left, and Wanda Baldwin are both vendors at the weekly Driggs craft market Artisans at Mugler Plaza.

Mid-Market last Friday, I walked up Main Street to the Artisans at Mugler Plaza, eager to let Emily Jane (Plain Jane Products) know how much I’ve enjoyed her “Be Calm” candle. Alas, she was not there! However, in her spot was another booth with an arresting display of clothing on one side, and intriguing paintings on the other. Two equally arresting ladies sat chatting in the back of their booth awaiting potential customers.

“Hi, I’m Emily Selleck, the Market Elf, here to learn more about your interesting creations — and share it in our local paper. Might you be open for an interview?”

Marina and Wanda welcomed me to take a seat, and they would be happy to share their stories. Marina began — “I’m Marina Zavalova, and my business is ‘Marina Zavalova Fine Art Lessons and Workshops’. I’m a textile designer by occupation, but I’ve been painting in oil all my life, trying very hard to get my artwork into art galleries. And I did! I believe fine art is underestimated here in the States (Marina is a political refugee from the former SSR). It’s not a cute hobby for a retired grandma — it’s my lifelong struggle to be in the same business with men. It’s my lifestyle.

“My studio is in Idaho Falls where I live. I paint portraits, landscapes, and now portraits of people’s pets,” she smiles broadly, nodding towards some adorable little dogs peering out of their canvases. “I teach classes at the College of Eastern Idaho — Oil Painting and Figure Drawing. I also give private lessons in my home studio, and provide supplementary art courses for the college students who want do more. I love to see my students succeed and be proud of themselves.”

“What brought you out to Teton Valley?” I asked.

“My family — kids, too! — loves to take family trips, especially to the Tetons. I have some artwork for sale in Jackson and at the Local Galleria in Driggs. Along the way, with everything being so beautiful, I always take time to stop and paint. My trips are for art and enjoyment — a big getaway from Idaho Falls! And whenever I’m in Driggs, I always stop at Broulim’s for some of their sushi.

“About twelve years ago, I began participating in the original Artisan’s Market in Driggs, and I talked Wanda into coming with me two years later. Matter of fact, I talked her into coming with me today! Saturdays, we’re both at the Market in Idaho Falls. We each have our own booths, next to each other, of course. We are ‘Booth Buddies’!”

A young woman with her daughter stop at the booth. “You do quick-draw portraits right here?” she asked Marina.

“Yes!” Marina responded with alacrity, pointing to a chair just now vacant as I hopped up, hoping the eager young daughter might pop in and sit down — with Mom’s permission, of course. And she did!

While Marina was adroitly creating her quick-draw, I turned to Wanda Baldwin, whose business, “Tattered”, swayed invitingly from their hangers nearby. “Please tell me about your dresses and skirts,” I asked Wanda.

“All my garments are made from upcycled — recycled, if you like — textiles. I particularly love the vintage fabrics from the 1940s and 1950s, be they dresses, table cloths, bedlinens — whatever I can get my hands on!” she waved a hand toward the rack of clothing where a customer was browsing.

“Do you have somewhere I could try this one on?” the customer asked, holding up an unusual print skirt with interesting flounces.

“Yes, right around the back of our booth,” Wanda replied pointing to a small-but-tall-enough tent-like structure just outside their booth.

After the woman went to try it on, I asked Wanda about the ‘dressing room’. “Oh, it comes from a camping supply company. A camping closet. You know, when someone needs some privacy out camping to bathe, or...”

Clever! I never knew such a thing existed!!

“Wanda, please tell me where you find such interesting and unusual fabrics,” I asked.

“Oh, I visit garage sales, and thrift stores. See ‘n Save here in Driggs is a great one. And, people know me and what I do, and bring me materials. Just the other day, a friend brought a bunch of vintage lace doilies she’d inherited. She thought I’d be able to turn them into something clever. I can’t wait to turn them into something ‘new’!”

“And, how did you find Teton Valley?”

“My husband was in the military and was stationed for a while in Idaho Falls. We loved Idaho, and, after he retired, we moved here from South Carolina. That was about twenty years ago. I still try to get back to South Carolina every year for a visit — but never in the summer! It’s just too beautiful here in eastern Idaho.”

Marina finished her quick-draw and rejoined us. “This Christmas, I’ll be here thirty years,” she chimed in. “I plan to live ‘til I’m a hundred!” she grinned. “I never stop learning. It’s what keeps me going. When I’m not teaching, I’m going to workshops to learn more.”

“Shall we see you ladies back at our Friday Artisans Market?” I asked, closing my notebook as I saw a clutch of customers gathering in front of their booth.

“Most likely you shall!” they both replied.

The Market Elf encourages you, dear reader, to take advantage of their their talents. As a reminder, the Artisans at Mugler are here every Friday from 9:00 a.m. ‘til 3:00 p.m. Their last Market is on Friday, September 11, 2020.