Picasso too mainstream for Big Brothers/Big Sisters Winter Craft Fair

The 35tth Annual Northampton Winter Craft Fair, which raises money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Hampshire County, was held at the Northampton High School Gymnasium the weekend of December 5th - 6th.

“Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Hampshire County matches mentors to children who are facing adversity,” said South Hadley resident Megan Kludt, board member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Hampshire County, and immigration lawyer for Curran and Berger LLP in Northampton, MA.

“The two-day fair,” reads the official statement on the site for its parent nonprofit, CHD, “features one-of-a-kind handmade crafts from 90 juried artisans, delicious food from Nancy Jane’s Catering, a fabulous silent auction on Saturday and plenty of free parking.

“The fair also features a wonderful children’s book sale with thousands of gently-used, pre-loved children’s books at bargain prices, organized by children’s book author/illustrator Diane deGroat.”

Participants from the Valley and beyond, including New York and Vermont, came to present and sell their works, ranging from photography to Eastern-influenced painting, and even some uncommonly viewed mediums for the Valley, such as gourds.

“I learned how to do the art of gourds 26 years ago when I was in Arizona,” said Ceil Rossi, Agawam, of Carefree Gourd Gallery. “It’s a three-dimensional canvas instead of a flat canvas. You can cut, carve, and paint on a gourd, and it’s a new canvas.”

“So instead of painting on something flat,” said Leo Mauer, a high school student in the Westfield area, “you can add texture to it.”

A common trend at this year’s craft fair was repurposing used or unwanted materials into new items.

“I was repurposing long before it was what everyone else thought of,” said Penny Pitts, Amherst, who creates paper-based art, as well as bracelets with egg shell pieces incorporated into the texture.

Another instance of this up-cycling art is the array of wooden decorative items and wall-mounted hooks from former Northampton and current Brattleboro, VT resident Lori Green.

“We can . . . find a lot of reclaimed wood that Lori weaves into different pieces,” said Donna, who helps Green with vending for her art.

“[W]hat's really cool is, like, you'll have a little kid that will come up and stand there going, 'It's a guitar.' And there's no strings on it, but they'll absolutely get what you're going for . . .”

“It's surprising what you can do with stuff that no one really takes consideration to,” said Mauer. “I actually made a table not that long ago. I cut down some trees in the backyard, and I decided to cut the legs down, used some bark for around the edges of the table, and put a piece of plexiglass on top.”

Donna added, “It's just the satisfaction of being able to make something.”