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A quilted hanging by Pam Geisel (detail). See more pictures of featured artifacts below.

A quilted hanging by Pam Geisel (detail). See more pictures of featured artifacts below.

Art & Soul showcases local treasures

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Holiday lights will soon adorn trees along downtown streets, while nearby storefronts will reflect seasonal themes, but the Yellow Springs holiday shopping season begins in earnest this weekend at a new art fair, Art & Soul, where villagers and visitors can find unique handcrafted gifts made by local and out-of-town artists.

Art & Soul may be in its first year, but the jury-selected group of 29 artists portends high-quality work, including a variety of jewelry, ceramics, blown glass, beads, photography and mixed media art across a wide range of prices, that’s sure to make the perfect holiday gift, according to organizer Lisa Goldberg.

“It’s a more unique gift to find because it’s not mass produced,” Goldberg said. “It’s all handmade, and you can meet the person who made it.”

Art & Soul runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at Mills Lawn Elementary School, 200 South Walnut St. Entry is $3, a portion of which will be donated to the Yellow Springs Police Coat Fund and Mills Lawn. The event is part of the kick-off weekend for “Holiday in the Springs,” a cornucopia of shopping and events that runs through the end of year.

Art & Soul fills in the weekend once held by the longtime local event, Glen Helen Nature Arts & Crafts Show. That event, which ran for more than 30 years, was retired this year because of a lack of volunteers and Glen Helen staff time to put into the event. Some of the same artists will be represented at the art fair, such as Barbara Jones, who spins and dyes her own wool. But the art fair’s theme is broader than nature, and includes the work of many area artists who have yet to show their work in Yellow Springs.

Goldberg, organizer of the Yellow Springs Artists Studio Tour, aims to bring the same level of intimacy to this event, which was kept small and select for that purpose. An independent jury of three artists was extremely discriminating about the art they chose, Goldberg said.

And that’s exactly why local ceramic artist Lisa Wolters, who travels to many art fairs, looks forward to exhibiting — and shopping — at the Yellow Springs fair.

“It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality,” Wolters said of the local art fair. Compared to mass-produced items from big box stores and malls, at an art fair “there’s a story behind every piece,” she said. Overall, it’s a far more enjoyable shopping experience, she said.

“I like buying at fairs because it’s low-stress holiday buying instead of the frenzy of commercialism,” Wolters said.

Having been to more than 50 art fairs as an exhibitor, Goldberg knows what sells. In addition to high quality wares, she aimed for a diverse collection of media and artwork within a broad price range. Gift items, from $10 to more than $300, may include screen-printed messenger bags and T-shirts, jewelry made from silver, glass beads and fabric flowers, functional and decorative pottery, art quilts, photographs, watercolor paintings, coasters, cutting boards and even candleholders made from found objects.

Using items such as cans of peanuts, billiard and bocce balls and children’s blocks, Lisa Vetter and Paul Siefert create clocks, jewelry, lamps, candleholders and more.

“By creatively ‘upcycling’ these objects with other media, we not only offer a new story to an old item, we also challenge the viewer to observe these everyday items in a completely different way,” according to Vetter and Siefert in an event press release. Neither has ever shown their work in Yellow Springs.

Local painter Julie Kay Karlson will offer her new decorative paper mache bowls, made using recycled paper of every variety and color, and even some of her old paintings; Cedarville glassblower Jim Delange will showcase his artful use of color, shape and design; Hajar Davis will sell fiber art dolls and boxes; and silversmith Karen Gaski will offer jewelry she accents with etching and enameling, according to ­Goldberg.

Having secured a $3,500 grant from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation for start-up costs, Goldberg said she hopes that Art & Soul becomes a self-sustaining local event over the next three years. In addition to filling the void left by the Glen’s former Arts & Crafts Show, the local art fair is a great way to support local artists. And Goldberg is confident it will also draw crowds to patronize the village’s stores and restaurants.

Goldberg said she hopes the impact on downtown on Saturday is substantial. But she also wants to make sure that the Yellow Springs Schools benefit. Not only will student art adorn Mills Lawn hallways, but financially the schools will reap 100 percent of the profits from a raffle and the sale of refreshments, jewelry and snowman pins made by special education and art students.

“It’s rewarding to see how successful [arts events] are, not just for artists, but for the local economy,” Goldberg said.

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