Spirit of creative exchange goes on year-round at Art Center

By From page A5 | November 28, 2012

Children’s Secret Store shoppers, shepherded by their volunteer helper, make their gift purchases at the Holiday Sale at the Davis Art Center. Courtesy photo

Children’s Secret Store shoppers, shepherded by their volunteer helper, make their gift purchases at the Holiday Sale at the Davis Art Center. Courtesy photo

Check it out

What: Davis Art Center Holiday Sale

When: Noon-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: 1919 F St.

Info: www.davisartcenter.org

The holidays are here, but the elves have been working all year long.

I’m not talking about Santa’s elves (although I’m sure they’ve been very busy, too). I’m talking about the Davis Art Center elves. Over the past year, the elves have made more than 700 hand-crafted items that will be sold this weekend in the Davis Art Center Holiday Sale Children’s Secret Store, a kids-only shopping experience.

The Secret Store has always been a favorite part of the Holiday Sale. Seeing kids’ eyes light up when they’ve picked out special gifts for their loved ones all by themselves is adorable kid empowerment. And while teaching kids to shop, we figured we should instill some values as well. So now, the kids can shop locally and sustainably, purchasing gifts made by local artists as well as local kids and adults who participate in our workshops — otherwise known as our Art Center elves.

Last year, the Art Center started the Green Table at the Secret Store, a table dedicated to locally and sustainably made gifts. This year, we expanded the idea by creating the elves workshops. The elves get to learn a craft and supply the Secret Store with cool “green” stuff.

These workshops are also doing something more profound. The elves workshops have allowed the Art Center to create a new opportunity to involve our community in art-making, and extending the generous, collaborative spirit of the holidays year-round.

As the Art Center continues to work toward our new mission to be a creative gathering space, we are more committed to the idea that art and civic engagement go hand in hand. Art brings people together, and that is what the elves workshops are about. The workshops bring people together to create, and the Holiday Sale brings people together in creative exchange.

This year, more than 50 Girl Scouts from local troops participated in the elves workshops, making 300 items from recycled materials. And many Davisites participated in public workshops as well. Instead of bringing their craft project home to hang on the own fridge, their magnet or painted coaster will bring joy to a child who picks out that gift for a special someone to receive. Making art for someone else is about generosity, and that is the true spirit of the season.

As the co-chair of this year’s Holiday Sale, I hope to strike a delicate balance between honoring this incredible community tradition and creating new innovations like the elves workshops. I’ve focused on developing more local partnerships and creating a more in-depth sense of community surrounding the Holiday Sale.

The Green Table has become a galvanizing force — it has encouraged people to make art and it has created opportunities for teaching artists to reach some people who they never would have through a regular class. And that’s just the beginning of some of the new things we are doing.

This year we are collaborating with more local organizations like Davis Pedicab, Strelitzia Flower Company and Stone Soup Catering. Whole Foods is contributing goodies for our 70 artisan vendors and 100 volunteers who make the Holiday Sale run smoothly.

The sense of community and generosity is a driving force throughout the entire Art Center organization, not just the Holiday Sale. After receiving feedback from our patrons, the Art Center just launched the Make Art Happen campaign, raising funds to initiate some changes that our patrons have said that they want — making the space more comfortable and inspiring and our virtual presence more user-friendly. We hope that these changes will make the Art Center more inviting to the Davis community and will make everybody who walks into the Art Center feel inspired to have a creative experience.

Everybody will certainly feel the creative spirit this weekend at the Holiday Sale when more than 70 artisans will set up shop for the three-day extravaganza of local artisan talent that is the Holiday Sale. The sale itself lasts only three days, but it is my hope that the spirit of creative exchange will extend throughout the year. I hope to see you at the Art Center!

— Shelly Gilbride is the new director of development and special projects at the Davis Art Center; this column is published monthly. Reach her at [email protected] or 530-756-4100.

Shelly Gilbride

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