Delaware event impressario Barry Schlecker, who organizes September’s popular Brandywine Festival of the Arts, has always wanted to do an indoor arts show.
Urged by painter friends who won’t do outdoor shows and inspired by their studio tours, Schlecker decided this year to approach the Chase Center on the Riverfront about a holiday event.
Artists had told him they’d participate in an event that would bring many artists together, so they could draw a larger audience and give shoppers a wider selection of great works, Schlecker said.
Chase Center planners were thrilled.
They’d been trying to make their December calendar a kind of Winter Wonderland, they told Schlecker.
Schlecker’s name and the fame of the his harbinger-of-fall arts event preceded him, they said.
“That’s great,” Schlecker told them. “What are you ging to do to help me financially? Because I can’t affoard it.”
They made hime a deal he couldn’t refuse, and the Brandywine Holiday Festival of the Arts was born.
Schlecker immediately sent messages to all the artists who show at the fall festival telling him that the space will only allow 150 artists.
Within two weeks, 100 had signed up.
It’s up to 120 for the Dec. 16-17 event and includes include many of the painters, jewelry makers, potters, photographers and fabric artists who appear in the September event.
Schlecker expects the last 30 slots to be full by December.
The holiday festival will be cosponsored by Children and Families first, a Delaware nonprofit focused on helping children, youth and families thrive
to their full potential. The group will share in the proceeds from festival admissions.
The holiday show’s featured artist will be Wilmington painter and folk artist Eunice LaFate, a native of Jamaica who settled in the city 40 years ago and now operates her own gallery on Market Street.
She’s fond of saying that she doesn’t believe she could have done better than establishing herself in Delaware. Big cities would have taken no notice of her, she’s said.
Also exhibiting will be Oksana Pivush, the refugee jewelry maker from Ukraine, who enjoyed a successful U.S. debut in September at the Brandywine Festival of the Arts, only to have it cut short that Sunday by bad weather.
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Other exhibitors include jewelry maker Olga Ganoudis, well-known for her licensed works for the “Game of Thrones” television series; painter Rick Phillips; photographer and visual artist Eric Zippe; Jimmy Thompson of the City Painting Group, known for paintings of Wilmington buildings; Sue Ann Cox, “The Fairy Potter”; Sandy Askey-Adams, who focuses on inspirational paintings of natural scenes, and jewelry maker Cheryl Titcher, who specializes in animal themes.
In addition to artists, the festival will feature food vendors, live music and entertainment, face painting and other children’s activities.
Festival admission on Dec. 16 and 17 will be $5, with children 12 and under accompanied by an adult admitted free. Parking at the Riverfront is always free.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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