Nov. 16 Event Offers Creative Gift-Giving at its Finest

By Jann Wiswall

What’s your plan for holiday shopping this year? If you’re like a lot of people, you’re dreading that trip to the mall or big-box store. Aren’t you glad you have another, far more creative and stress-free option?

The Routes to Art (RTA) Holiday Sale takes place this Sunday, Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the top floor of the main lodge at Holiday Valley. This is a unique opportunity to wow all of your loved ones by purchasing some truly one-of-a-kind gifts while supporting the work of 25 of the area’s most prominent artists.

How about a handmade necklace? A frameable or framed art print? Christmas cards? Art books? Functional or fun ceramics? A beautiful basket? Ornaments for the hostess? The choices are nearly limitless and likely to give you “most creative gift-giver” bragging rights.

This year’s participating RTA Holiday Sale artists include Darlene Allen (photography), John Balacki (watercolors), Charlotte Cappellino (oil paintings), Denise Drummond (paintings, photography), Patricia Eckstrom (paper sculpture), Karen Fitzpatrick (stained glass), Barbara Fox (watercolors), Sean Huntington (gouache/watercolors), Elliott Hutten (ceramics), Elizabeth Jankowski (jewelry), Dawn Lombardi (acrylic paintings), Tom Martin (photography), Keith McKale (woodworking), Tom Militello (glass marbles, fused glass), Penelope Minner (Native American basketry), Anne Mormile (ceramics), Rose Nuszkowski (stained glass), Ellen Paquette (plush animals, paintings), Todd Plough (oil paintings), Dee Smith (watercolors), Mat Snyder (stained glass), Jil St. Ledger-Roty (photography), Eileen Weishan (fabric arts), Michael Weishan (photography), Mikel Wintermantel (interactive acrylic paintings) and Robin Zefers Clark (watercolors).

All artists will have fine art gift items at accessible prices just for this occasion. You will find cards, books, prints and original paintings, jewelry, pottery, ornaments and more. Plus, appointments can be made with individual artists for a chance to see their entire collections or commission a truly original gift for that very special someone.

RTA is the brainchild of the Cattaraugus County Arts Council, a non-profit organization based in Allegany that is dedicated to supporting and promoting the collective arts community in the region while advancing cultural tourism and enhancing enjoyment of life in the Southern Tier.

“RTA is a wonderful way to help established artists market their work,” said Tina Hastings, executive director of the Cattaraugus County Arts Council. “It’s also an opportunity for aspiring, up-and-coming artists to see what it takes to be selected for RTA and work toward their goals of becoming professional, full-time artists.”

Artists selected for RTA generally are full-time artists who participate year round in the entire RTA program. Its signature events include an exhibition at Jamestown Community College’s Center Gallery in Olean and a self-guided Studio Art Tour that gives art admirers a chance to see art as it is made in individual artists’ studios. Both of these events are held in the spring.

The Holiday Sale was added to the program in 2010 as another way to showcase these artists’ and artisans’ talents while providing the community with a fun, affordable and inspiring seasonal shopping experience.

“The Holiday Sale is unique to the Southern Tier,” said Hastings. “Other communities have open studio tours, but this is the only event that we know of that showcases local fine artists and their work during the holidays.”

In 2015, Routes to Art Holiday Sale shoppers can look forward to two days of browsing artists’ wares, when the annual event takes place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21 and 22, at the Lodge at Holiday Valley.

For more information, visit www.myartscouncil.net and www.routestoart.com, email tina@myartscouncil.net or call (716) 372-7455.