Painted bison skulls, napkin rings, handcrafted fanny packs and ceramic pottery are just a few of the items that will be available for purchase at the Art Association’s 56th annual Holiday Bazaar this season, whether you’re looking to purchase holiday gifts or make an interior design statement.
An event that usually takes place over a single day, the bazaar this year will transform into a monthlong gallery, both online and in-person, where shoppers can view and purchase work from participating regional artists.
“We thought having that many people gather in one place is a recipe for disaster,” said Anika Youcha, communications director for the Art Association. “So we’re just basically doing our best to continue the event in a way that we thought could be most beneficial to the artists during COVID and to the public to keep everybody safe.”
The in-person part of the bazaar will take place in the Art Association’s gallery at the Center for the Arts. Starting Monday and running through Dec. 29 it will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays to showcase handcrafted ceramics, glass, apothecary, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, sculptures, textiles, wooden ornaments and more.
New this year, the Art Association is also participating in a national event called Artists Sunday — the art equivalent of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday — a day intended to encourage shoppers across the country to buy from local artisans.
To preserve some of the personal, know-your-artist character of the long-standing holiday bazaar, a number of its featured artists will host meet-and-greets in the gallery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Tuesday. Matt O’Donnell, whose specialty is bison skulls painted with intricate designs, and acrylics painter Sue Tyler will kick off the meet-and-greets Dec. 1, followed by jeweler Stephanie Howell and landscape painter Ben Walter on Dec. 8, jeweler/metalworker Barbara Gentry and jeweler Kathy Morgan on Dec. 15 and animal portraitist Corrina Johnson and ceramicist/textile artist Tenley Thompson on Dec. 22.
All told, just 20 artists will participate in this year’s bazaar, down from the more typical 50, but the variety of work and mediums remains, with everything from Christmas ornaments to paintings and sculptures.
Gentry, whose metal work features the Cathedral Group of the Teton range as well as some larger sculptures, is participating in the bazaar for the first time.
“I love the permanence of metal,” she said, “the fact that it’ll be here forever and ever and ever, pretty much, and just the 3D-ness of it. If I use a found object or something, that gives me that starting point to figure out ‘what it wants to be.”
Gentry makes more two-dimensional work that can be necklaces or ornaments, for example, and 3D objects that can be napkin holders, bracelets or scarf rings, among other things.
“Think beautiful things that can be used every day,” she said of the versatility of her objects. “I mean, it’s like I’m Martha Stewart incarnate, without her bank account and empire.”
Gentry has done commissioned work for the 1996 Olympics and made a pendant necklace for the Smithsonian.
“Certainly the last thing in the world I ever thought I’d do would be getting into welding,” she said, “and I thank my lucky stars that I did, because it’s just really fun.”
Many other artists will also take advantage of the opportunity the Art Association provides to showcasing their work.
“We’re mostly honestly excited to continue this tradition even through the pandemic,” Youcha said, “the ability to give artists a space to show and sell their work during the holidays.”
The event benefits the Art Association, with vendor fees going directly to art education for all ages and community outreach programs to over 30 valley organizations. ￼