By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Art on the Avenue, the annual Christmastime art show in Sharon, is expanding to two weekends this year, a result of the show’s popularity with artists and the public.
The show will be held Friday through Sunday and Dec. 14-16 at the Walnut Lodge, 80 S. Irvine Ave.
Donna Little said she can’t remember when she and Pat Logue started the show – probably 15 years ago – but it remains an exciting endeavor for her, notwithstanding all the work that goes into planning it and preparing the site.
“After all the work is done and it’s time to open the doors, it’s a joy to see the people come in,” said Little, a metal artist with a studio in Sharon, where the first shows were held. “I love seeing people having fun shopping.”
The show started with six artists – of those, Ms. Little, potter Jean Clark-Henry and Mary Fay Templeton, who now makes beaded jewelry with Patty Brady, will participate this year – as a way to celebrate the season with friends and family and maybe sell a few pieces.
“Every year, we thought, ‘That was fun, let’s do it again,’ ” Little said.
But the show has grown to the point that Little has had to turn away artists because there wasn’t room in the lodge to hold them all.
“I considered moving to a bigger place but could not find a space with the ambiance of the lodge,” she said. “Everyone, artists and customers alike, loves the cozy, warm atmosphere of this show and I’d hate to lose that.”
Ron Meade, a photographer and leather artist from Jefferson Township, said he looks forward to doing the show every year.
“It’s local, it’s the only chance around here,” he said.
“Last year, I did better there than what I did at the Butler,” Meade said, referring to the Butler Institute of American Art’s annual holiday show in Youngstown.
The show brings in customers from Youngstown and Warren, Ohio, and a representative of the Yankee Peddler festival has been known to turn up to scout artists for that show, Meade said.
“I think this two-week thing might be kind of neat,” said Meade, who will show both weekends.
Four other artists also will show and sell both weeks; Ms. Little; Sue Crisan, who makes handmade soaps and lotions; Nancy and John Chpka, who decorate gourds; and Cathy Szabo, who makes beaded angels.
Other artists will appear only for one weekend, showing paintings, pottery, jewelry, repurposed items, wind chimes, T-shirts and any number of other creations.
The show has become a Christmas tradition for many customers.
“I love that people look forward to it,” Little said.
Steven Jubelirer, vice president of Reyers Shoe Store, Sharon, said he has been shopping at Art on the Avenue for several years and will be going again this year.
“My only regret is that I didn’t discover Art on the Avenue sooner,” he said. “That’s where I buy probably 90 percent of my gifts.”
Jubelirer said he impulse shops at the show.
“A lot of times I buy and decide where it’s going later,” he said.
Jubelirer said he loves the idea of helping local artists, and he finds “great” and “interesting” gifts along with items for himself, “things that I use,” he said.
Despite its success, the show remains small, and Little hopes that it boosts new artists.
“From the beginning, it’s always been about getting new artists started,” she said. “It’s not a huge show, so they don’t need a lot of inventory.”
Upcycling artist Marjorie Zampogna of Hermitage is participating the first week of the show, her first time in Art on the Avenue.
She said Little invited her to participate and told her she would be a “good fit,” but admitted she has never been to the show before.
“A lot of the Artie Gras artists do this and I like working with these artists,” said Zampogna, who will be showing upcycled wool hats and scarves, doily “capelets” and tie purses.
“I’m expecting it to be fun,” she said.
With events such as Artie Gras, which takes places during warmer weather at the Quaker Steak and Lube, Art on the Avenue and the events of the Sharon Arts Music Initiative, “It seems like we’re going in a nice direction with more local events,” Zampogna said.
Art on the Avenue coincides with an open house at 29 Logan Ave., the art gallery up the hill from the lodge.
Show hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.