Six hundred to seven hundred shop at Art Center’s holiday fair

Michelle Mills tried on an abstract-style glass necklace made of multiple layers of glistening reds and glittering silver and surveyed the result in the mirror.

It seemed the perfect holiday party-dress accessory.

And it isn’t for her. Or at least not yet.

“I’m going to surprise my mother on her birthday,” Mills said as she tried on the necklace at the booth where La Veta-based artist Jill Whitmore exhibited her hand-crafted jewelry Saturday at The Art Center in Grand Junction. “It’s unusual, and I always think: Maybe when she no longer wants it, maybe I’ll get it.”

The prices of the necklaces averaged $50 to $60.

She’s one of 600 to 700 people who made it into the 37th annual Holiday Art and Craft Fair.

The event, which features 36 juried artists mostly from Colorado, continues today. Booths included cooks with homemade holiday pies as well as clay artists and painters.

Attendance seems to be up from last year, officials said.

Grand Junction resident Bonnie Clark, who owns Pillow Personalities, showed off her many novelty pillowcase designs.

“It’s like art for your head,” she said. “Today, the popular one has been music designs.”

Everyone seemed aware of the economic downturn, yet the parking lot was overloaded with cars through 4 p.m. Several shoppers carried out bags of items.

“It is a gift, unless I change my mind,” said Margie Krause, who showed off the painted gourd she bought.

Buying art to give as a gift, she said, “is more thought-out than a toaster.”

“The colors on this are just spectacular,” she said.

Fifteen percent of the fair’s proceeds goes back to The Art Center, officials said.

“We have everything from ceramics to blown glass,” said Lee Borden, events and communications manager for the center. “The lower-ticket items are moving a little quicker this year. It seems like people aren’t buying the high-ticket items as much.”

Prices range from $3 for some items for children into the thousands of dollars for some of the more sophisticated art pieces, he said.

Norm Olson, a volunteer at The Art Center,  exhibited photography and lithograph work when he lived in Oregon. At the Grand Junction fair, he displayed creative bowls and other clay pieces he makes at the center studio and paintings he does at home.


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