We all know the feeling: the holidays are here and with each day that passes the checkout lines get longer, the prices higher, and online shopping looks more and more appealing. But instead of resorting to your computer, venture out in Orange County where there are numerous opportunities to shop for locally-made, handmade, high-quality gifts without breaking the bank or running out of time.
Throughout the month of December, many local organizations will be hosting holiday art fairs, including a Holiday Pop-Up Market at FRANK Gallery, the Elf Market at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, and the Orange County Artists Guild holiday show, Deck the Walls.
FRANK Gallery’s second-annual Holiday Pop-Up Market will be held on December 8 from 1 to 6 pm and will feature local artists, a French baker, a mobile coffee cart, jewelry and other giftables, and more.
“Our gallery is giving a platform as well as a space for local artists to show their work,” said FRANK Manager Natalie Knox. “By buying locally made items, [people] are in turn supporting the local community and the local arts scene.”
Jesse Hollars, the ArtsCenter Youth Education Manager, echoed that supporting local artists is incredibly important during the holiday season, saying that the Elf Market is a great way for local artists to showcase their work as well as interact with people in the community.
The Elf Market will take place on December 1 from 10 am to 4:30 pm at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro and will feature 45 local vendors as well as family-friendly activities occurring throughout the day.
Hollars, who is also a vendor in the Elf Market, said that online shopping may be easy, but being able to meet the artists and even pick up and touch the work adds to the emotional value of the gift being purchased.
“For me it’s nice to be able to talk to people about my work,” she said. “It’s also nice when you’ve purchased a handmade gift for someone and you can tell a story about the artist that you bought it from and how it’s made.”
Judith Ernst, the president of the Orange County Artists Guild, said that many of the Guild’s artists are excited about being engaged with the community this holiday season. Their first-annual Deck the Walls holiday show will feature more than 600 pieces of work by 46 artists, many of whom would otherwise not have a space to showcase their work before the holidays.
“Artists are very happy to be engaged in this,” she said. “A holiday market is something people have been wanting for a long time but just haven’t figured out how to do.”
Deck the Walls will be held November 23 through December 24 in FRANK’s Community Gallery at University Mall. Ernst emphasized that there will be work with a large range of sizes and price points so that anyone has the opportunity to gift local art this year – something she feels is important and often overlooked. Artists will also be demonstrating their craft at the gallery throughout the month.
“All of our artists are essentially small business owners,” she said. “If the local community doesn’t buy from them they can’t have a successful small business and we all know how vital small businesses are to the local economy.”
So this year, when thinking about what to give to loved ones, consider heading to one of Orange County’s local art fairs, where you’ll not only get a unique, well-crafted, and beautiful piece of art, but you might also get a good story to share.