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Art Beat



A very busy - and crucial - season


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 of Frances Boettcher

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 and friends.

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 gifts."

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 via



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. photo glass blowing demo
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. 825-9384.
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 lunch available.

Glass Blowing 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. $5.
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. 826-2511.
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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