ArtFirst! Pop-Up Holiday Show and Sale

Since 2004 I’ve spruced up my basement studio and invited people in to see my artwork and handmade crafts for my yearly holiday Open Studio and Sale. From the beginning I dreamed of including other artists, but those of you who have come by know how small the space is, and that I filled it to the brim with my own work.

Garden Delights Arts & Crafts open studio

Well, my dream is finally about to come true. ArtFirst!, the art cooperative I started this year, is having a group pop-up art show and sale at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, starting the last weekend in November and running through the first weekend in December.

ArtFirst! Holiday Art Show and Sale

We’ll be there from November 24th through December 2nd, from noon to 6:00 pm, open every day except Monday and Tuesday.

The opening launch party will be held on Saturday Nov. 24, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. I hope you can all make it, it’s going to be a blast! Our host at the VS Galleries, Mark Canepa, says he’s going to roll out the red carpet (really), and you’ll be able to meet the artists and enjoy music, wine and yummy snacks.

You won’t want to miss this exciting opportunity to see the diverse and unique work of eleven talented local artisans, and to shop local for original and one-of-a-kind handmade gifts for yourself and for family and friends. Some highlights include abstract photography by kayla garelick, assemblage art by Beka Brayer, my nature-based arts and crafts, blown glass by Holly Wallace, vintage-inspired loomed beadwork by Julie Long Gallegos, mixed media and fiber arts by Grace Taormina, fused glass jewelry and handmade soap by Jane and Nadine Robbins-Laurent, artisanal botanical perfumes by Laurie Stern, painting by Victoria Veedell, Rachel Taormina and our host Mark Canepa, and much more!

As always I’m eager to show you the many new photographs I’ve taken this year, and I’ve been working hard on my nature-based artwork and crafts. George brewed up a new batch of his wonderful natural soaps and we have a limited edition line of beeswax candles from local beehives.

Hummingbird at Flax Flower

The Gallery is wheelchair accessible and there’s plenty of free parking. It’s about a half mile from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. I hope to see you there!

Follow ArtFirst! on Facebook. And please check out our website, created by kayla garelick.

Saga of an Art Show and Gift Sale

I know it’s early to think about the holidays, not to mention that we’re all preoccupied with what’s going to happen on Election Day and what’s happening to our 401Ks and savings accounts, but what the hell, I have been through weeks of going back and forth about where to hold my December Open Studio, and I just got that settled, so I’m going to post about it!

For the past five years I’ve held an Open Studio twice a year, once in July and again in December.  I have always held it in the studio at our house, which does double duty during the rest of the year as our laundry room.  I love setting up for the Open Studio — it brings out the inner retail-decorator in me.  I clear out all the clutter of my sewing / matting / framing / inkjet tranferring etc., cover my tables with white cloth, and haul out the various fun displays I’ve accrued over the years.  George put up wonderful dragonfly xmas lights around the ceiling years ago, and they really add to the atmosphere.

I take all the things I’ve made, arrange them, re-arrange them, and on and on.  Setting up the studio is fun but actually only a fraction of the work required.  There are so many details — I make innumerable lists and enjoy crossing off each task.  I design and order postcards to mail to my list, draft an email announcement, decide what kind of publicity I want to do, make sure I have change and bags and receipt books and tissue paper, etc.  I print signs with prices, labels for most of the items.  I remind myself how to use the calculator that adds the tax and double-check that the tax rate is correct.

Anyway, that’s a short description about some of the things that go into getting ready for an Open Studio.  Obviously, the location is a primary consideration.  Like I said, we have always had it at my house.  Unfortunately, the crime rate in our neighborhood has steadily risen over the years, and we’ve become a bit nervous about opening the house to anyone who walks by.  For the first few years I spent hours walking around my neighborhood and putting postcards in everyone’s mailbox (or on their porch after someone complained to our postal deliverer, since you’re evidently not allowed to put mail into the box, sigh).  I also put many signs up.  We got a lot of people into the Studio that way.  Lately, I’ve only given postcards to those of my neighbors who I know.  We no longer put up signs or do any widespread publicity.

Having to limit our audience like that just isn’t workable, especially now when it’s harder to get people to consider purchasing art as gifts.  So, time to find another place to have the Open Studio.  I had hoped to use part of the gallery that I worked in for the past year (see “Demise of a Gallery”), but the owner closed it abruptly last month.  I talked with a few people about renting a store/gallery that was vacant, but that was too complicated.  Luckily, a wonderful local supporter of the arts in El Cerrito who owns a framing store/gallery offered to let me set up in her space for the first two weekends of December.  Kathleen Glenn owns the Glenn Custom Framing store, and this past year expanded her offering of local artists’ work.  The store is on 7027 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito.  She’s open Tuesday throughFriday from noon to 6, and suggests calling for her Saturday hours, 510.558-1078. If you need custom framing, Kathleen has an incredible eye and is incredibly generous with her time and advice.   She is the mainstay of the local art group, the El Cerrito Art Association.  So, to wind up a long saga, Garden Delights Arts & Crafts’ annual Holiday Art Show and Gift Sale will be at the Glenn Custom Framing Gallery of Art on December 6-7 and 13-14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  I won’t be there during the week, but Kathleen will hold her normal hours and my work will all be there, Tuesday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m.