The clay and painted wood figures include a cat with a bass fiddle, a teapot with a fat-cheeked woman's head, a bird flying from a clock, and a caricature of painter Frida Kahlo with a dog. They reside on shelves in what was once the children's powder room.
Marta Adelson purchased the figures by the Oiseaux Sisters on early visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Her three children, who grew up in the house in Merion Station with the whimsical art, are now grown and moved away.
Their mother first visited the annual craft show in 1985 before they were born. She and her husband, Bob, had just moved to Center City Philadelphia from their hometown of Tulsa, Okla.
Eventually, Marta joined the Women's Committee, which produces the juried craft show as a fund-raiser for the museum. In 2010, Marta chaired the show and continues to have a leadership role.
Though her early purchases resembled folk art, her later acquisitions were more diverse. Over the years she has bought one-of-a-kind, museum-quality pieces from most of the categories represented at the show: glass, baskets, jewelry, wearable and decorative fiber, metal, paper, leather, furniture, ceramic, wood, and mixed media.
Bob and Marta, now both 58, were exposed to fine art even as high school sweethearts in Tulsa.
"Bob and I started collecting art together when we married in 1983," Marta says. "Originally, he wasn't enthusiastic about crafts, but his appreciation has grown over the years."
Now Bob has a home office in Merion Station filled with craft show finds.
On the cherry wood mantle, a framed work consisting of multicolored squares by fabric artist Susan Lenz is flanked by two insect sculptures by Mike Libby and a turquoise glass sculpture by Michael J. Mikula, whose blue glass pillar shimmers in front of a window. Perched on the desk is Kina Crow's small, jaunty figure, Bad Ass Bob.
"I had to buy it for Bob," Marta admits.
The 1920s three-story stone Colonial in Merion Station was remodeled after the Adelsons purchased it in the late 1990s. Bob's office with the clerestory windows had been an enclosed porch. The kitchen and butler's pantry were reconfigured, and a family room was added. "We wanted to create a better flow," Marta says.
The center hall with its graceful staircase features a coral Turkish rug and large paintings of exotic flora and fauna by Daniel Heyman, whose work is in the Art Museum's collection.
Arranged beneath a black-and-white Henry Moore print on a tea cart in the living room are ceramic white and gray cones by Ani Kasten from the craft show and black teapots from China. "I'm a mix master," Marta says. "I like combining new handmade crafts with antiques."
Two built-in cases in the living room house antique musical instruments from Bhutan. The counterpoint is a tall abstract marble sculpture by Pablo Atchugarry of Uruguay.
The living room's deep-green wall covering matches the Turkish rug. An Altamira floor lamp next to the stone fireplace has a cast metal, ceramic and resin base and a hand-painted plum, conical shade. Marta purchased several Altamira lamps from the craft show.
In the dining room, the walls are painted red with a gold wash. Red, green and beige patterned chair cushions pick up colors in Sharon Core's floral photographs replicating Dutch master still lifes.
Though the kitchen with its white cabinets and black countertops was remodeled 20 years ago, it looks new. "I liked a clean look, and it hasn't become dated," Marta says.
The ceramic white bowl by Janet Lowe, with horizontal black stripes and blue, mauve and yellow designs complements the colors of the backsplash tiles. "I took a chance when I bought it at the craft show," Marta says, "because the kitchen wasn't finished yet."
Three large tiles in the butler's pantry painted by Marta and Bob's son and two daughters when they were younger were surely inspired by craft show art.
The 42nd annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, featuring 195 contemporary artists, runs Nov. 2-4 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. For information, pmacraftshow.org