Posts Tagged With: buy local

Give the gift of performance

The calendar couldn’t do it, but the snow last week has finally moved me into a state of elation over the possibility that Christmas will be here soon — Hooray! I’ll be watching my TV listings for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated version, of course), and my must-see, A Charlie Brown Christmas — it wasn’t such a bad little tree. And with the notes of those familiar theme songs, I have to admit that it’s time to do some shopping.

I love my family and friends, but we often don’t share the same taste and I anguish for weeks and months about what to get “Aunt So-And-So” or “Cousin What’sHisName.” No way I’m buying anyone a tie or a fruit cake. And Sue, my BFF in fourth grade, put the fear of god in me as far as paper dolls as an appropriate Christmas gift. (Does anyone still make paper dolls?) Even toy shopping is stressful.

Some experts say to give gifts that you like. That certainly makes it easier. And how about gifts that you like and your family and friends will love? Of course — gifts that keep giving, music and dance! One of my very favorite things in the world is live performance and the next best thing is a recorded performance. Tickets to shows or CDs and DVDs make excellent gifts for anyone, anywhere, anytime! If I’m on your Christmas list, I’ll take two of each.

The Kentucky Arts Council has put together a listing of live performances by some of the performers in its Performing Arts Directory. All Performing Arts Directory artists go through a rigorous panel process in order to be included in the directory and you can rest assured these artists are among the very best. I began doing my Snoopy dance as soon as I saw the range of live performances available this season. From classics like Lexington Children’s Theatre’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Lexington Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker to the enchanting Yule Y’all, a Celtic celebration with Keltricity and the Chattering Magpies and the Louisville Orchestra’s Christmas Spectacular. And that just scratches the surface. With all the exciting performances on the list, your Christmas shopping can be done in a heartbeat and you can sit back and enjoy the show along with the applause from all your delighted friends. Ticket prices are excellent–some are even free. Have a look at the listing and take your favorite people out to enjoy a live performance, or two, or three!

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Heath and Molly’s three CD holiday gift pack, a perennial favorite.

If you can’t get everyone together to go to the show, have a look at our listing of Performing Arts Directory artists CDs and DVDs. Each has been recently released and will provide hours of entertainment value to the lucky so-and-so who gets them. From Latin-mountain fusion artists’ Appalatin to rock-and-rooters Heath and Molly, the Lexington Ballet Company to the Louisville Chorus, gypsy jazz by Stirfry Musette to Lexington Vintage Dance–oh my, so much to enjoy! And there’s still more — cowgirl fun by Raison D’Etre, folk music by LaMay & Reese, good ol’ country music by Dale Pyatt and the Chickengrease Band and wait, we aren’t done yet…There’s too much to capture in one short blog post. With so much music and dance to choose from, every Who in Who-ville will be thrilled and even the Grinch will rejoice!

Tamara Coffey, individual artists director

Categories: Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Holiday shopping in My Town, Kentucky, USA

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and good ‘ol Saint Nick is starting to take notice of who is being naughty and who is being nice.

One way of being really nice would be to pick up some “unforgettably you,” smile-making stocking stuffers or a few heart-warming presents you could only feel good about putting under the tree.

Imagine its Christmas Day.

It’s Christmas Day; as you stand there in the living room, seeing the tree sparkling, decorated and aglow. The lights are just right; you hear the music, soft and low, swaying in the background, reminding you of what life’s really all about — family, and love, and sharing and thankfulness.

Then you hear a name being called, pulling you back, ever so gently, into the Christmas picture. It’s the name of your loved one being called, the one for whom you bought a present. Your loved one moves close to the tree, hands out, heart open.

Flashing back to a few weeks ago, you thought about buying an online gift from one of those way-to-famous, get-it-all-here, one-stop shops (it fits all sizes, anyway) places. Then, briefly, only briefly, before you were overcome with feelings you couldn’t stand, you thought about just adding one of those pre-paid gift cards to your purchase at the grocery store. But, you didn’t want to be that person, the person who gave that gift.

And now that the present is opened, the smiles so bright — it would be absurd to ask (how could anyone not know), as so many have, and will ask again — “do you like it?” Really?

You shopped local this time, taking a path that made all the difference.

You did your shopping in Hometown, Kentucky, USA.

With all the promise of so much joy, for so many people, why wouldn’t everyone shop locally?

There are only two answers: Time and money. Right?

And when we get right down to brass tacks, it’s just money. If you are like most, chances are you think it’s just more expensive to buy locally. And maybe it is, but not always. I’m constantly amazed at what great deals I can get at local shops.

But, even if it were always more expensive, would it be worth a spending a couple of extra bucks for that Kodak moment? How much is a Hallmark Christmas worth? Is it priceless?

I don’t know. I’m not a rich guy, myself, but I’d pay a lot to see my wife smile on Christmas morning, because I bought her a Kentucky crafted present. It’s like one of my dear friends here at the Arts Council explained to me, “I don’t have the finances to only shop locally, but I do all that I can.” That makes sense.

The number one reason to shop locally is because it will make your loved ones happy, on Christmas day and throughout the year.

Many of those gifts, bought from mega corporations whose names begin with A to W on down the line to Z, have a shelf life somewhere between a couple days, a week, or perhaps a month, at most. Then, it’s off to the next shiny toy — at least that is my experience with a lot of the gifts I get.

It’s the rare ones: a precious work of art, a moving piece of music recorded by a regional band, furniture, food, drink or other gifts of joy, which I treasure throughout the year. What would you treasure, I wonder, that can only be got locally?

Shop local; there are other good reasons. Shopping locally supports the community, keeps money in your hometown, goes to pay wages of our neighbors and artisans (writers, crafters, painters, musicians, and many other wonderful people we could not live without) who work in our community.

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The shop local gifts are sure to be unique, showing just how much you love someone. The crowds are smaller, the shop keepers and other shoppers are by far and away, much friendlier.

Another thing I know that doesn’t occur to us too much: shop keepers are people too.

If you didn’t think shop keepers are people too, you’re not to blame. It’s hard to think of those companies as people, because they’re not. But local shop owners are people, who often struggle to make a living, in a world gone corporate and online, schlepping stuff made somewhere far away.

This Christmas you can bless your loved ones and yourself by buying a My Hometown, Kentucky gift. Your purchase will also bless your local shop owner. Think of buying your hometown gift as your little present to those who do so much to make your community the wonderful, livable place it is.

Buying locally means buying two gifts (one for your loved one and one for the shop owner). You can’t beat a “buy one, get one” deal in terms of value.

Categories: Arts Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Thanksgiving conundrum – deck the halls with menorahs?

With the advent of artificial Christmas trees, one of the Thanksgiving weekend traditions in many Kentucky homes is to decorate the Christmas tree. For those of us who celebrate Hanukkah, we can usually count on the eight-day festival of lights to start sometime later — maybe early December or maybe right in the midst of the Christmas holiday. This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, which means the first candle in the menorah will be lit after sundown the evening before. So if you happen to be looking for an exquisite Kentucky Crafted menorah, I have a few ideas for you. If you start decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend, I have more than a few Kentucky Crafted ideas for your tree. Incidentally, Christmas ornaments make lovely hostess/host gifts if you are invited to Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Craig Kaviar Menorahs

Craig Kaviar Menorahs

These hand-forged menorahs created by Craig Kaviar can be family heirlooms for centuries. On the left is the “Curled Menorah” which is available at $245 and on the right is the “Menorah, Classic Style” at $380. They can be purchased at Kaviar Gallery in Louisville or ordered at 502-561-0377 or kaviargallery@gmail.com.

Berni North

Berni North Menorah

This elegant glass menorah will brighten up the window for every night of Hanukkah. Kentucky Crafted artist Berni North offers this menorah at $450 and carries many other glass decorative items for the holidays at HawksView Gallery and Café in Louisville. You can also blow your own glass ornament and dine at the café for a fun experience. For more details, go to www.hawksviewgalleryandcafe.com

Gavin Wilson Bells

Gavin Wilson Bells

Ring in the holidays with these charming bells made of solid hand-hammered copper. Each bell created by Kentucky Crafted artist Gavin Wilson measures approximately two inches across and comes with decorative Christmas ribbon or leather hangers. They are priced at $15 each or two for $25. For an additional cost, they can also be made with personalized lettering. To order, contact Gavin at mountainforge@windstream.net or 606-330-1657.

Dick Scheu Snowflakes

Dick Scheu Snowflakes

Each handcrafted snowflake by Kentucky Crafted artist Dick Scheu takes on a faceted jewel-like quality by the way he juxtaposes the grains of different woods. The delicately crafted snowflakes are about four inches in diameter and only one-sixteenth of an inch thick, making them lightweight and ideal for any Christmas tree. Prices range from $20 to $32. For more selection and to order, go to www.kentuckysnow.com.

Kellersberger Ornaments

Kellersberger Ornaments

These handmade metal twister ornaments come with different center designs and two tone colors. Kentucky Crafted artists Scot and Laura Kellersberger offer a wide range of colors and themes including sports, Kentucky and, of course, Christmas. Reasonably priced at $15 each you can see the full spectrum of designs at www.phoenixcreativemetal.com. To order, contact Scot or Laura at 859-866-8757 or info@phoenixcreativemetal.com.

Money Folk Art Ornaments

Money Folk Art Ornaments

If you love folk art, this is a great way to start collecting. These adorable critters by artists Lonnie and Twyla Money will brighten up any tree and be a keepsake for generations to come. Sizes vary, but most are about five inches in height and sell for $28 each. To order, contact Lonnie or Twyla at 606-843-7783 or gourdchicken@windstream.net.

Shambrola Ornaments

Shambrola Ornaments

These lovely hardwood ornaments are made by Mick Shambro with a scroll saw. Each ornament is dipped in natural mineral oil to seal the wood and bring out the color and grain of the wood. They come in two sizes and sell for $18 and $22 each. The ornaments don satin ribbons and a card to identify the type of wood and care instructions. To order, contact Mick at 859-576-2945 or shambrola@gmail.com.

Steve Scherer Ornaments

Steve Scherer Ornaments

Amazing glass sculptures within glass globes are the signature pieces of Kentucky Crafted glass artist Steve Scherer. In addition to the birds featured above, he also has a wonderful selection of ornaments depicting horses, dragons and life under the sea. The ornaments are priced at $98 each and come with a brass stand for year-round display. To order, contact Steve at 270-432-3615 or sscherer@scrtc.com.

Hobbs Goose Feather Trees

Hobbs Goose Feather Trees

Goose feather trees are an old German tradition that has been carried forth in America by Kentucky Crafted artist Joanne Hobbs. Each tree is created one feather at a time on a sturdy wire armature, making a wonderful display for your most precious ornaments. They come in antique white, burnt orange and pine green and are beautiful decorative items, even without ornaments. They are available in five sizes, from 12 to 48 inches and are priced at $52.50 to $400. To order, contact Joanne at 502-348-4257 or goosefeathertree2@yahoo.com. Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

If you’ve never visited the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, take my advice: Finish reading this blog post, then hop in your car and head on over. You will like what you find.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea has been an economic oasis for Kentucky arts businesses of all sizes since it opened its doors in 2003. Ten years later, the artisan center now introduces travelers up and down the I-75 corridor to the wonderful world of Kentucky artists, musicians, writers and food producers. The artisan center also provides a unique experience for those of us who call Kentucky home.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Government Award recipient. I felt very fortunate to spend some time with Victoria Faoro, the center’s executive director since the day it opened its doors.

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For people who have never visited before, describe the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

The Kentucky Artisan Center is really a taste of Kentucky. It’s meant to be a gateway to the entire state, so it includes all Kentucky-made products. We have visual arts, crafts, 2-dimensional art, music, books, and specialty food products. What’s unusual about the artisan center is it does have a dual focus. It’s meant to introduce people to the arts, but also we send people to other places in the state, so we’re promoting travel in Kentucky as well.

We offer a café that serves many Kentucky specialties. We offer traveler services. We are, in fact, the only mid-state rest area on I-75. The artisan center is a place you can get a feel for the quality experiences you can have in Kentucky, and we provide you with information to explore those experiences further.

How many Kentucky artists and artisan businesses are represented in the artisan center?

We work directly with more than 700 artists all across state. We also buy works from musicians and writers that we purchase through distributers, so we work with even more Kentucky artists that way.

We try to work with each business at the level they are on and provide the kind of support they need, that will be helpful for them. We’re really willing to work with them. We feel their success in business is the most important thing.

We work with them on packaging. We’ll work with them on things like quantities. We’ll work with them on price points and presentation that will help them and, often I think, it helps them in other places too.

How is the assistance you provide to artists beneficial to them?

A lot of times it can help them avoid some costly mistakes. If an artist is testing a new item they have a chance to try it in a small way, with someone who is not going to stop carrying them if it doesn’t work out. A lot of times we’re the first wholesale customer a Kentucky artist will work with. It gives them a little experience before they go to their first wholesale market or show.

The artisan center offers Kentucky artists an easy stepping stone to working with other wholesalers.

How is the artisan center different from other state government agencies?

The first thing I would say is, in order to balance our budget, we have to generate over 70 percent of that through sales. Conducting business efficiently and effectively is extremely important, especially when you realize the travel service section doesn’t earn any revenue.

I think we’re unusual in the fact that the majority of our space is public and our staff is working seven days a week, nine hours a day with the public. It’s also probably unusual for a state agency with a budget this size to be working with as many vendors as we are.

Can you talk about how the artisan center is important to introducing people to Kentucky and to our artists?

As the board and the planning groups were thinking about the center, they began to envision it as a billboard on the interstate. They really thought of the front of the building, what it would look like, and worked to make it something that would make people want to get off the interstate.

The limestone in the building is Kentucky limestone. The stonemasons who laid it were all Kentucky stonemasons. I sort of feel like from the minute a person sees the building and comes inside, they’re seeing Kentucky as a place of quality. I think the main thing we can do is give people the sense that Kentucky has quality businesses and quality experiences. When people come to the center they’re expecting a typical rest stop and I think they’re very surprised and happy when they find the center full of all kinds of art. We do try to have a range of price points such that any person coming in could afford to get something if they wanted to. We use the products in fun ways so people can enjoy the art.

A lot of times we have people say, “I didn’t have any idea Kentucky had these things or these places to visit. I’m going to plan more time here for my next visit.” For us, that’s a measure of success if people want to come back and spend more time in Kentucky.

Why is it important for the artisan center, as part of state government, to support artists economically, to provide economic opportunities for our artists; especially in conserving our arts and cultural heritage?

Kentucky is very fortunate to have a very vital and flourishing artist population. There are many arts still being made in Kentucky that just aren’t in other places. They’ve died out totally. During difficult economic times, a lot of artists were finding it difficult to continue making their art. Many artists found themselves having to consider quitting altogether because they didn’t have any assurances of income. One of the things we can provide as a center that has the visitation we have is some assurance of continued sales over a period of time. Many artists have said that, the fact that we order from them several times a year and we can be counted on to pay for our orders in a prompt way enables them to purchase the materials they need to continue making their art. We just think the arts are really important, not just for visitors, but for the people in the communities where these artists live. The quality of life is just better everywhere if our artists can continue to make work. We see it in people who come here. There’s something really wonderful about being able to purchase and make a part of your life something that’s connected with a community or an individual.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My three big questions for gallery and shop owners selling Kentucky crafts

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As we approach American Craft Week, Oct. 4 – 13, 2013, I begin to think about marketing craft in Kentucky and realize there are three groups that are important players in the industry — the artists, the retailers and the customers. Often times, there is a direct relationship between the artist and customer, but it is the craft retailer that reaches enough customers to make the industry sustainable.

I’ve interviewed three Kentucky Crafted Retailers who are most actively participating in American Craft Week with three big questions:

1. Why do you sell craft?

2. What are some of your customers’ favorite Kentucky Crafted items?

3. What does being a Kentucky Crafted Retailer mean to you?

Gift Shoppe on Main

Amy and Mike Martino promote both local and national artisans at the Gift Shoppe on Main in Brookville, Ind. Whether it is a gift for you or someone else, they offer the area’s finest selection of handcrafted American-made artisan gifts including pottery, glass, copper, art, jewelry, handbags, scarves, smocking, weaving, cedar chests, mixed media, quilting, wood, baskets, gourds, candles, soap, food, Christmas ornaments and more.

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Mike and Amy Martino

Here are their answers to my three big questions.

1. The love for the arts was passed down to us from family members who were quilters, seamstresses and musicians. To honor our heritage,  we wanted to have an outlet where we could promote the arts to the public to make them aware of the talents that are associated with finer craft making. We are also very interested in made in America and home-based businesses. Our gallery has made it possible for us to currently support more than 100 American artisans, most of which have a home-based business.

2. Customers’ favorite artisans are Nora Swanson Jewelry, Rachel Savane Jewelry, Richard Kolb Yardbirds, Luann Vermillion Wildflowers, Dan Neil Barnes Glass and Robert Ellis Woodworking.

3. Being a Kentucky Crafted Retailer gives us the ability to promote a high standard of craftsmanship that we want to offer in our gallery.

Zig Zag Gallery

Kim Megginson and her husband started out as potters and sold work at a number of craft fairs before taking over ownership of Zig Zag Gallery near Dayton, Ohio. At Zig Zag Gallery, Kim promotes the work of small studio American artists along with Pandora jewelry, StoryPeople, Naot shoes and Fair Trade items.

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Kim Megginson

Here’s what she had to say in response to the questions:

1. With our backgrounds and life experiences we have had the opportunity to know and work with many artists. These individuals and their beautifully handcrafted work have brought tremendous joy to our lives.  To be given the privilege of making a living working with these talented people is truly very special.

2. Many of our customers come in looking for local work, and having Kentucky Crafted artists certainly fills that need.  A few of their favorite artists are:

  • Dyesigns by Pamela – Customers love the beautiful color palette of her scarves.
  • Kentucky Springs –  We have sold Kyle Ellison’s salad tongs for probably 20 years! It’s the best hostess gift ever.
  • Yardbirds – They are fun, whimsical and just a little wacky…a definite great fit for ZIG ZAG
  • Terra Cottage – People love his “reading glasses.”

We always tend to gravitate to things with a little bit (or a lot) of humor.

3. While the primary focus of our gallery is the work of small studio American artists, we especially enjoy featuring regional work. Working with the Kentucky Crafted program has helped us discover more of these regional artists. I felt that becoming a Kentucky Crafted Retailer was important for a couple of reasons. I have great admiration for the support that the Kentucky Arts Council offers to Kentucky artists and hope that becoming a Kentucky Crafted Retailer helps in some small way to support this program. In addition, it creates another avenue to promote the artists working with the Kentucky Arts Council.

Completely Kentucky

Ann Wingrove, owner of Completely Kentucky in Frankfort, Ky., is proud to offer the work of more than 650 of Kentucky’s best artisans. She buys directly from small family businesses, many of whom follow generations of family traditions in their craft.

Here’s Ann’s take on the three big questions:

1. I worked as a consultant for a number of years, traveling all over the country. No matter where I was, I always looked for local art to bring back. At the same time I was also involved in downtown revitalization through the Main Street Program. I decided I should put my time and money where my mouth was and open a downtown business.  Choosing to sell only fine crafts made in Kentucky made sense.  I wanted to offer to other business travelers, locals and visitors what I looked for when I traveled — a wide selection of fine craft and locally made products. Having the Kentucky Crafted Program helped tremendously.  Kentucky has so many talented craft artists and a tradition of creativity that makes me proud every day I walk in my store.

2. That’s difficult to answer.  We offer all media and price ranges at Completely Kentucky.  I think it is essential for customers to realize the range of hand-crafted work that is available, and that not everything is expensive. That said, we do have several categories that are consistently good sellers. Pottery is always popular.  People love to have a handcrafted mug, or a special serving dish. Jewelry is also in great demand. As a jeweler once said, “You may use the same casserole dish for years, but a woman can never have too many earrings!” We have seen a growing demand for larger pieces, too. Furniture, sculpture and outdoor art are all strong categories for us. Functional wooden items, boxes, spoons and pens make great gifts.  We keep a holiday section stocked all year as many people love to buy an ornament when they travel.

3. Kentucky Crafted Retailers have deliberately chosen to support local suppliers. That means we don’t have large profit margins (like retailers that sell imported items). We can’t purchase in bulk and we often have to wait a long time for delivery. But, we also know exactly who makes the work we sell, we know where our money goes, and we get to sell wonderful, beautiful, meaningful items to our customers. We thank each customer by telling them that every purchase directly supports more than 650 Kentucky family businesses. How cool is that? I know that Completely Kentucky is supporting our local and state economy.  I know that local communities throughout the state are benefiting from the income our artists bring in. It’s a great feeling to support family businesses.

Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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