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Artisans Festival returns to deck the holidays

Brett Bentley
Staff Writer

The halls of Miners Foundry Cultural Center are decked for the holidays with care in hopes that art lovers soon will be there. The 35th annual Artisans Festival opens its doors at 10 a.m. Friday for those in search of unique gifts, Thanksgiving weekend traditions or even a little holiday spirit.

The historic stone walls of the Miners Foundry set the stage for a holiday experience, with adornments of greenery, twinkling lights and decorations throughout Stonehall and Osborn Woods Hall. About 50 fine arts exhibitors from Nevada County, Northern California, Oregon and Nevada will fill the foundry with their handmade original works of art. Local musicians will provide festive tunes in both halls as shoppers wander among the artisan exhibit spaces.

“It’s quite an aesthetic experience,” said Foundry Executive Director Gretchen Bond.

Part of the beauty of the event is the hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of handmade, original artwork showcased at the fair. For organizers, that’s a point of distinction for this juried fine-art show.

“The quality of the art is very high,” Bond said, adding that although they are works of art, there is something for everyone and every price point at this fair.

The Artisans Festival will showcase about 50 painters, photographers, printmakers, ceramicists, jewelers, textile artists, sculptors, woodworkers and glassblowers. Included among the many new artists exhibiting this year is mosaic designer Martha Jones. Formerly an interior and architectural designer, Jones uses entirely “green,” re-used materials and re-purposes them into sculptural delights, said LeeAnn Brook, who is helping with the show.

One of Jones’ mosaic works (featured on the Prospector’s cover) is a birdbath created from a discarded satellite dish and colorful re-used tiles. The fascinating and complex art is truly one of a kind and is a must on the sustainable-gift list, Brook said.

There will also be jewelry made from handmade glass beads by Auburn artist Rita Foreman. The colorful, spiraling contemporary beads are right out of a modern art museum, Brook said.

Longtime festival exhibitor Patrick McCaulley will feature his exquisite hand-turned wooden sculptures once again. Brook said his followers return each year to see his latest pieces.

Former art teacher Jill Erickson will show her newest line of mono prints, a form of printmaking in which each piece is entirely unique from the next. Drawing on the printing plates and using found materials, such as grasses, flowers and leaves, this local artist’s work covers the range from representational to abstract.

The Artisans Festival is also a major fundraiser for Miners Foundry, significantly contributing to the restoration and maintenance of the facility. Thick walls of granite blocks house a museum of foundry and gold mining artifacts, a newly constructed performing arts stage and community event center.

Homemade soups and food will be available for purchase throughout the three-day event, along with beer, wine and hot beverages.

Admission is $3 for adults, and children 16 and younger are free. Bond said admission is good for the entire day for those who wish to come and go throughout the day while enjoying Nevada City.

Many families have made attending the festival a tradition after their Thanksgiving feast, as it is a welcome outing for visiting guests wanting to experience the essence of our area, Brook added.

The Artisans Festival is open all three days of Thanksgiving weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located in the Miners Foundry Cultural Center at 325 Spring St. in Nevada City.

For information, go to http://www.minersfoundry.org.

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be contacted at bbentley@theunion.com.

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