Placida Market featured Artist of the Week

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG Artist Lee Sullenberger creates wood-veneered household accessories. You can view her work April 13 at the Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Market.

PLACIDA — When a friend of Lee Sullenberger called her artwork “exquisite modernism,” she didn’t know what to make of it at first.

“I guess it’s the lines,” Sullenberger said. “It’s post-modern as well as mid-century. I think he used ‘exquisite’ because of veneers. Some people think they’re (art) deco-y.”

Veneering is the art of combining thin pieces of wood and arranging them in an assortment of patterns. Sullenberger’s worked with them since she was 25.

“I started in a wood shop,” Sullenberger said. “An old Italian man taught me veneering, and there’s an older German man who used to do flowers, images, children and all kinds of things. I just took it and ran it from there.”

Sullenberger moved to Englewood from New Jersey in July with her partner, Randall Davis.

“We didn’t want to live in New Jersey primarily because of Randall’s asthma,” Sullenberger said. “We can’t breathe up there. Everything changed so much. It became so commercialized. Randall had known about Englewood, and so he took a look and here we are.”

Davis is also an artist, but isn’t as active as he used to be. He said he’s content helping with the business side of Sullenberger’s efforts.

“We’re looking for a warm, arts community, as opposed to freezing our buns off back north,” Davis said. “I thought this offered some growth for the arts.”

Sullenberger said moving to Englewood helped her work because it stands out more.

“She’s got a quality to her craftsmanship,” said Stephanie Borchard, president of the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay. “A lot of women don’t work on wood like she does. She incorporates a lot of color in her inlays. Her use of color is kind of snappy and whimsical.”

Sullenberger uses a variety of woods for veneering, cutting them using an X-Acto knife.

“I use Mahogany, ebony, bird’s-eye and rosewood,” she said. “You can bookmatch, which is taking something and mirror imaging it. Sometimes you have to fiddle around a few sheets before you can bookmatch. Slip (matching) would be pulling it out. I make my bases or sometimes you find things and you design around them.”

She creates a variety of household accessories from tables to trays, ranging from $20 to $600. She started participating in the Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Market shortly after joining the Arts Alliance in September.

“I like the location of the market,” Sullenberger said. “I think it’s very cool. I like the people. It’s free. Can’t beat free. It’s a Saturday out. Some of the work is quite good. I just like Placida. It’s just a cool place. People can go and they can have a nice time walking around outside.”

For more information about Sullenberger’s work, go to, or call 367-221-4927.

The next Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 on the grounds of the Fishery restaurant, 13000 Fishery Road. Parking and admission are free, and artists can display their work there for free. For market information, call 941-697-2451.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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