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A very busy
- and crucial - season
by LINDA MITCHELL
I' VE BEEN WORKING MY TAIL OFF
FOR weeks now in preparation for an exhibition of my oil paintings
at Gallery Dog in December. By the time this column is printed,
all the work will be hanging on Samantha's walls and I'll be
experiencing those "empty nest" blues that invariably
accompany the completion of a show, blues that probably won't
entirely disappear until I begin a new body of work. It's a lot
like watching your kids drive off to college.
I take comfort in the fact that
I'm not alone, since many of my friends are in the same boat
at this time of year. December tends to be a popular month for
artists to book exhibits because, frankly, it's the time when
galleries tend to sell the most. Many local artists spend months
in preparation and then keep their fingers crossed, hoping for
a positive reception to their work and a few holiday sales.
"Christmas sales generally
get me through April, at least," Frances Boettcher [photo at left] told
me the other day when I visited her studio to see what she was
working on for the holidays. She lives in King Salmon, down below
sea level where all the streets are named after fish: Cod, Sole,
Perch, Crab, Halibut. When I arrived at her house, I stepped
out of the car into 2 inches of water and sloshed my way up the
driveway. A chartreuse ceramic sign on her front door greeted
me: "There's a big bazooka pointed at your left foot. Go
away." I smiled and knocked.
"I forgot to tell you about
the tide," Frances said when she opened the door. "It's
an 8.6." She led me through her artsy, patchwork house,
pointing out areas where she knocked out walls or built new ones,
showing me photos of her enormous family, telling wildly entertaining
stories about growing up in a paint factory in L.A. and attending
her 47th high school reunion in El Monte.
Frances' house, of course, was
chock-full of works in progress. Unfired ceramic platters, mugs,
vases, bowls and plates were stacked everywhere. We made our
way back to her studio, where several oil paintings in a variety
of sizes were in progress. She told me she was preparing new
work for the Gallery at Humboldt Carpets in Old Town, for Arcata
Artisans (the new cooperative gallery on the Plaza), for the
Ink People Holiday Gift Fair and for her own open studio sale
inking salmon Dec. 20.
"The Ink People show is
a one of my favorites," Frances said. "It's such a
great fair. It's inside, so you don't have to deal with the elements,
the people are all great, and it's a big money-maker for me."
A longtime Ink People member,
Frances has been participating in the holiday show since it began
a few years ago. Held at Eureka's Municipal Auditorium (Ink People
headquarters is in back) on Dec. 13 and 14, the Gift Fair features
handmade items by local artisans, live musicians and a food court.
It's my favorite place to buy one-of-a-kind gifts for my family
Now there are many art fairs
and events coming up in December, but a big part of what I love
about the Ink People's Fair is that Frances always participates.
If you're unfamiliar with her work, check out her booth at the
Muni next weekend. Her loose brushwork, graphic colors, and bold
line have been inspiring me for years and her art remains one
of the best bargains on the North Coast. Every year I buy her
inexpensive hand-painted ceramic mugs, plates and ornaments,
and then have a hard time deciding which people on my gift list
could possibly appreciate her work as much as I do. Needless
to say, my house is filled with her art.
Ceramicist Marian Coleman, another
artist who has participated in the Gift Fair since the beginning,
says she does it because she likes to help fund the Ink People.
(The organization gets a percentage of all sales.) "The
Holiday Fair supports individual artists and a worthy organization
rather than corporate America," she said. "Artists
are encouraged to keep their prices low, so people can buy affordable
Like Frances, Marian says December
is a big month for her and adds that she makes roughly half her
yearly income from holiday sales. In addition to the Ink People
Fair, Marian says she's also been busy preparing new work for
Arcata Artisans. "I always have to make sure I have enough
stock on hand in December," she notes. "It's a really
busy time. You should see the dust in my house."
A glance at this week's calendar
and Arts Alive! listings will give you an idea of just how much
creative activity has been going on around the North Coast. This
Saturday night in Eureka, for example, several new exhibits debut
during Arts Alive!, including three group shows that offer a
sampling of the work of many North Coast artists at one time.
These include the Redwood Art Association's Fall Exhibit at 517
Fifth St., HSU's First Street Gallery Invitational Exhibition
(featuring 25 local artists), and the Humboldt Arts Council's
Annual Members Juried Competition at the Graves Museum.
While you're at the Graves,
check out the 20 small paintings on the ground floor if you haven't
done so already -- you still have time to purchase tickets to
win your choice in the museum's Small Works Benefit Drawing Dec.
13. Well-known local artists donated the work and the proceeds
benefit the Graves, which, like the Ink People, needs all the
community support it can get in these tough economic times.
Creative offerings continue
throughout December all over the county, far too many to cover
in my little space-limited column, so check the Journal's
calendar carefully each week if you don't want to miss anything.
Among the highlights: the Humboldt Artisans Craft and Music Festival
at Redwood Acres this weekend; the Mateel Winter Arts Fair Dec.
13 and 14; and a holiday sale at the wonderful Fire Arts Foundry
and Gallery in Arcata, also Dec. 13 and 14. This is a very good
time to experience art on the North Coast -- and to find some
unique gifts in the process.
Linda Mitchell can be reached
HOLIDAY ARTS & CRAFTS CALENDAR
Humboldt Artisans Crafts & Music Festival. Dec. 5-7.
Redwood Acres, 3750 Harris Ave., Eureka. Noon-9 p.m., Fri.; 10
a.m.-7 p.m., Sat.; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. Humboldt's finest artisans
offer their wares; live music. $1. Free after 5 p.m.
Mateel Winter Arts Fair. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 13-14. Mateel
Community Center, Redway. More than 70 vendors sell crafts and
unique gifts. Enjoy live music, international cuisine and a visit
from Santa. $3. 923-3368.
Ink People Holiday Gift Fair. Dec. 13, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dec. 12, 10 a.m-4 p.m. Eureka Municipal Auditorium, 1120 F St.
Handmade items by local artisans, live music, food. 442-8413.
Arcata Holiday Craft Market. Dec. 13-14. Arcata Community
Center, 321 Community Way, Arcata. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.; 10 a.m.-4
p.m. Sun. More than 40 local artists sell their goods. Enjoy
live music and expect a visit from Santa. $1. 822-7091.
Fire Arts Holiday Sale. 6-9 p.m. Dec 12. Fire Arts Center,
520 S. G St., Arcata. Raku firing, bronze pouring, clay throwing.
Sale continues 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 13. Gallery now open. 826-1445.
Freshwater School Holiday Boutique. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec.
5. Freshwater School Auditorium, 75 Greenwood Heights Drive,
Eureka. Local crafters offer handmade items. 442-5162.
HCAR Craft Fair. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 13-14. Horizon Resources,
5050 Valley East Blvd., Arcata. Local crafters sell their work
at Humboldt Community Access and Resource Center's holiday fair.
Holiday Boutique. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dec 6. Unity Church
of the Redwoods, 1619 California St., Eureka. Local arts, crafts,
holiday decorations and homemade baked goods for sale. Light
demonstration at the Lost Coast Art Glass and Gallery in Westhaven.
Faith Center Church Christmas Boutique. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dec 5-6. 1032 Bay St., Eureka. Handcrafted items for sale, homemade
baked goodies, soup and dessert served both days, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Community Peace, World Peace: Holiday Dinner and Gift Auction.
5:30 p.m. Dec. 7. D Street Neighborhood Center, 13th and
D sts., Arcata. The Redwood Peace and Justice Center hosts an
international holiday dinner with music by Lila Nelson at 5:30
p.m. Auction begins at 7 p.m. followed by a raffle at 9 p.m.
and dancing to the Clarridge Fiddlers. $8-$50 sliding scale.
Talisman Beads Advent Calendar. 214 F St., Eureka. Beginning
Dec. 1, Talisman Beads will open one door on their window-size
calendar each day through Christmas Eve, revealing an ornament
hand-crafted by a Humboldt resident. Raffle tickets for the ornaments
are $1-$5. Proceeds benefit Humboldt Women for Shelter. 443-1509.
Holiday Open Studios. Visit artists where they work. Held
in conjunction with Arts Alive!, this event runs from 10 a.m.
to 9 p.m. on Dec. 6. Go to the second floor of The Art Center,
207 G St., Eureka. Also, artist Patricia Sennott will have her
doors open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 and 7. Look for the
red door in the white garage on 16th Street between H and I in
Arcata. John Wesa will have new and classic works on display
at his studio at 1255 Creek Court in McKinleyville. From 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m., Dec. 6; and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 7.
Fifth Annual Holiday Studio Sale. See demonstrations of
glass blowing, or hot fluid art. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 6 and
7. Maelstrom Studios, 411 Railroad Ave., Blue Lake. 668-1931.
Glass blowing demonstrations are also being held on Sundays in
December at the Lost Coast Art Glass and Gallery, 1131 So. Westehaven
Drive, Westhaven. 677-0717.
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