CVAG Christmas Market aims to stimulate imagination

Summer’s gone; winter’s on the way. The days are shorter, darker and stormier.

THE COMOX VALLEY Art Gallery gift ideas include Santa Buddies

Summer’s gone; winter’s on the way. The days are shorter, darker and stormier.

But before you know it, everything will brighten with the glitter, magic and mystery of the holiday season. That means festive decorations, good food and time spent with family and friends.

And, of course, the search for the elusive perfect present.

What to buy for the person that has everything or someone who doesn’t want anything? How to make sure each gift, no matter how big or small, is a delightful surprise? And what if you don’t have any ideas at all?

Never fear, the Comox Valley Art Gallery’s 38th annual Christmas Market is sure to stimulate the imagination. And this year the event will be bigger and better than ever. Yes, really bigger and really better because it will fill the gallery shop and the community and contemporary galleries.

“We’re really excited,” says CVAG shop manager, Rhonda Burden. “We’d discussed the possibility and then the timing of an exhibit changed freeing up all this space. This market will be nearly double in size.”

The use of the main gallery and the accompanying wall space means larger two-dimensional works can be shown than in the past.

“Some of the paintings are five by seven feet in size,” notes Burden. “This will make the market look like more like an art show and sale. We’re really taking the whole event up a notch this year.”

Opening day is Nov. 16, the same day the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association kicks off the holiday season with Christmas Magic.

For that one day only, CVAG is offering a 10-per-cent discount on all merchandise with a 15-per-cent discount to members. The gallery will remain open until 8 that evening.

The Christmas Market has established a reputation as the place to go for unique, hand-crafted items made by local artists and artisans.

“It’s a juried show,” explains Burden. “Excellent workmanship and quality are the main criteria the committee looks for.”

This year, walls and shelves will display traditional favourites such as beeswax candles, Warm Buddies hot water bottle covers, local art calendars, fabric dolls, jewelry, pottery and a dazzling array of Christmas ornaments — in other words, all the goodies people expect and look forward to.

“Ted Jolda’s hand-blown glass is always really popular,” says Burden. “He has a new line of drink tumblers that are flying out the door.”

There will be plenty of new items as well. These include wooden and soapstone sculptures, hand-painted Christmas cards, mounted block prints and much more.

“Something really different this year is the Rose Pedal jewelry made from recycled bicycle parts and inner tubes,” says Burden. “Megan Rose sells her work at five outlets in Montreal and can hardly keep up with the demand.”

Food is an important element of the holidays. In addition to Dark Side Chocolates and Cranberry Mama, the gallery will carry a selection of chutneys, barbeque sauces and Thai chili sauce from As You Like It in Union Bay.

At least half of the merchandise sold at the market is created by local artists, with the remainder coming from adjacent areas.

There’s a price for every budget, too. The most economical buy would be a $3.50 art card, the most expensive a large piece of two-dimensional art for $900. Jewelry ranges from $15 to $150 with candles starting at $10.

“The gallery is always well-supported by dedicated volunteers and we depend on them more than ever during the market,” adds Burden. “Anyone interested in helping out for a few hours a week can call or visit the gallery. For the market we’re not necessarily looking for people to work the till but we do need people to assist with merchandise and answer questions.”

The market runs from Nov. 16 to Dec. 29. Admission is free with entry through the gallery or shop doors. Hours are 10 am to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday with an 8 p.m. closing time on Nov. 16. CVAG will also be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec 15 and 22.

Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section.

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