Art and Craft For All

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the other artisans in the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale, as promised in my previous post and the one before that

Beka Brayer is  a mixed media assemblage artist. Beka says that her goal “is to breathe new life into intriguing old or found objects.” Beka has also published a limited edition hand embellished book entitled “Art of Whimsey”. She has contributed works for a wide range of fundraising benefits and has shown at ArtSpan, City Art Cooperative, Mission Artists United, and Studio 333.

Beka Brayer's assemblage, Don't Play With Matches

Glass blower Holly Wallace, formerly of Ruby Glass Works, is currently an exhibiting member of Berkeley’s oldest art cooperative, ACCI Gallery on Shattuck Avenue. Her work has been shown and sold at SFMOMA, Gumps, Celebration of Craftswomen, and many other galleries, shows and museums.  Holly describes glass blowing as “the whirling dervish of the art world. It is a juggling act with fire and form.”

Holly Wallace blown glass vases

Victoria Veedell paints vibrant and colorful abstract landscapes. In her words, she “captures the essence of nature by examining the effects of light on form in the natural world.” Victoria’s paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and art centers, and are in many private and corporate collections.

Victoria Veedell's oil painting, View of the Bay

Julie Long Gallegos creates hand beaded jewelry and accessories, including purses. Julie finds inspiration for her designs in Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, California Decorative Style, Art Deco, the Wiener Werkstatte, African art and Native American beadwork. Her Klimt “Kiss” cuff bracelet and “Coral Snake” lariat appeared in Lark Publications’ Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry book (2012).

Julie Long Gallegos' Poppies Purse

The ArtFirst! Show continues this Wednesday through Sunday (November 28 through December 2) at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito (cross streets Eureka and Stockton), from noon to 6:00 pm.

This is my original blog post with all of the information about the show. Visit the ArtFirst! website.

The Fragrant Arts

I promised in my last post to introduce you to more of the talented artists and crafters who’ll have their work at the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale

ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale

One of our main goals was to include a wide variety of artisans in the show, so I was thrilled when popular Pinole soapmakers Jane and Nadine Robbins-Laurent, of sassafras,were able to participate. They have a faithful following of customers for their handmade soap and bath products, candles, and fused glass jewelry at the Pinole Art Center and the Pinole Farmers Market. I always crack up when I see their slogan: “Life’s Too Short for Crappy Soap!”

sassafras soap

sassafras soap, copyright sassafras

Which leads me to another fabulous craftist – my husband George McRae. George is multi-talented. His main vocation is actingbut on the side he produces handmade soap and beeswax candles for our company, Garden Delights Arts & Craftsunder the name “Bubble Queen Soaps & Scents”.

George's cat soap

George uses only natural ingredients in his soap, and he doesn’t add color or extra scent, using only the ingredients (lavender is my favorite) for fragrance. By far the most popular Bubble Queen soaps are these cats. And for the first time at this show George will offer beeswax candles, handmade from wax produced by his bees (the hive is at a friend’s house in Richmond).

George's beeswax candles

After you’ve cleaned up good with either sassafras’ or Bubble Queen’s soaps, you’ll want to dab on some artisanal botanical perfumes made by Laurie SternLaurie is an award-winning natural perfumer. In her own words: “Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery revives the romance of the golden era of perfume through a blending of perfume’s legacy of romantic scent and gorgeous packaging with a modern sensitivity to organics, health, and ethics.”

Laurie Stern's Fleur de Caramel natural perfume

Laurie Stern’s Fleur de Caramel Parfum

If you want to meet Laurie in person and see her line of perfumes, she will be at the show the second weekend, December 1st and 2nd. Before then she’ll have luscious bath salts and other goodies available.

I hope you enjoyed this olfactory tour. Oh gee, did I mention when and where the show is? We’ll be at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito (cross streets Eureka and Stockton) from November 24th through December 2nd, from noon to 6:00 pm, open every day except Monday and Tuesday. And the launch party will be opening day,  this coming Saturday, November 24th, from 5 to 8 p.m. Hope to see you there!

This is my original post with all of the information about the Show.

Meet Some of my Favorite Artists

I told you the other day that my dreams to expand my usual solo Open Studio to include other artisans will finally come true, at the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale starting next week. Here’s a look at the work of a couple of the amazing artists in the show. (And stay tuned, I’ll introduce you to more in my next posts).

How many art shows boast talented mother and daughter artists? Meet Grace Taormina and her daughter Rachel. Grace is a mixed media and fiber artist who teaches a wide variety of art classes in the Bay Area and online at CraftArtEdu, and has published books about rubber stamping and other crafts. This is Grace’s Paper Paste Accordian Book.

Paper Paste Accordian Book

copyright Grace Taormina

Rachel Taormina paints and draws, works in mixed media, and creates upcycled jewelry. This is the home page of her website – showing the amazing variety of her artwork.

Rachel Taormina website

copyright Rachel Taormina

That’s your sneak peek for today! Much more to come, and if you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you can make it to the show — at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, from November 24th through December 2nd, from noon to 6:00 pm, open every day except Monday and Tuesday.

Come to meet us at the opening launch party, next Saturday Nov. 24, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

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 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.