Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts Sells Gifts with a Personalized Touch
An annual exhibit and sale at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts offers a wide variety of beautiful and affordable handmade creations
When Marion Robison first arrived at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, she hoped to sign up her daughter, Bianca, for a drawing class. Five years later she's helping out with events and making and selling art herself.
Robison, a dental lab technician, uses felt cutouts to piece together imaginative pictures and knick-knacks. She portrays cute and comical peacocks, penguins, bears and moose in action, along with various holiday scenes, such as one wherein upside down Santa's legs are kicking from out of a too-small chimney.
"They bring a smile to people's faces," Robison said. "It's a good outlet for me."
Some of her playful pieces are featured in the center's 2010 holiday-themed show and sale, "A Gift for All Seasons.".
The longstanding annual event at Banfill showcases everything from handmade jewelry to edible cupcake toppers from more than 30 local artists. Banfill, a community-oriented center, has gallery space, a gift shop, classes, artist and writer residency programs, readings and more, to support emerging and established artists.
"A Gift for All Seasons" offers exposure to artists of all ages and abilities while also laying out plenty of affordable gift ideas, according to center director Lia Rivamonte. Most pieces range from $3 to $50. "It's our vision to promote local artists, to nourish and support them in their careers as artists," she said. As the only arts center for miles, "Everything we do is geared for accessibility."
For the year-end show, multiple rooms in the quaint historic building, which was once an inn and a farmhouse, are filled with colorful ceramics, Christmas tree ornaments, silk painted scarves, soap, blankets, pictures, woodworking, mittens, dolls and purses.
The quiet, cozy shop is far removed from the bustle of typical shopping malls, with cookies and hot cider on hand.
Almost anything goes at the eclectic show, which was juried by a center member, Rivamonte explained.
"We look for things that are beautifully made and well-crafted," she said. "They need to be original and hand-crafted."
Additionally, the objets d'art should be kept affordable. Most people who are coming up with prices for their items know to consider the tough economic times, she said.
Rivamonte pointed out some fun woolen Christmas tree ornaments, which artist Karen Wallach dyed with Kool-Aid and shaped with cookie cutters. They're less than $10 each. In another room, a basketful of little rag-dolls from the same artist are $9.95 apiece. "I think these would make great hostess gifts," she said, picking up one of the dolls. "It's something unique and they're well done."
Rivamonte is thinking of buying a pair of mittens that are made from recycled thrift-store sweaters and felt slippers that mold to one's feet. "They're really nice and super warm," she said.
On another table, vintage-styled necklaces, which are priced at $5, are almost sold out. All-natural hand crafted soaps that "have a nice scent," are only expensive seeming.
In the process of supporting local artists and getting good deals, "I think people really appreciate these kinds of gifts," she said. "You're giving a part of yourself because you're being really thoughtful when you're giving something handmade."