This year, the South County Art Association will finally have the chance to celebrate its 50th annual Holiday Art Sale, even though it took another year to do so.
Executive Director Kathleen Carland told The Independent this week that she was happy to reopen the doors to the public, exhibit the works of more than 90 artists and give buyers the opportunity to once again secure creative and unique gifts. .
“Our upcoming pottery and art sale for the 50th anniversary celebrations once again proves that original art is still in fashion, tax-free in Rhode Island, supporting artists and not dependent on the chain. supply, ”Carland said with a laugh of this year’s show.
“We have the best stock ever because they’ve been making them for two years,” she added. The event will take place from November 26 to December 19 at the association’s studios in Kingston.
SCAA’s annual Pottery and Art Sale, a local tradition for the Kingston Gallery that runs for three weeks, gives shoppers the opportunity to purchase handcrafted pottery, mugs, bowls, teapots, sculptures, paintings, jewelry, ornaments and other items on their holiday shopping lists while supporting local artists and other artists from across the state.
The COVID-19 pandemic last year put this sale on hold as well as a true celebration of the event’s half-century anniversary due to a variety of pandemic-related restrictions that have kept people from checking out. to assemble.
How it started
The reason for the sale was for the association which needed money. As a non-profit organization, which it is still today, SCAA relied on membership fees, donations, and an occasional grant.
The association’s running costs were beginning to exceed its income. The potters, who formed the majority of the association’s members 50 years ago, came together to see how they could help.
They agreed to hold a sale with part of the proceeds going to the association and the rest to the artists, including John Cardin, a potter and original member who helped start the event.
The potters were able to market their work and the association obtained the necessary funds. The advertising was straightforward, just a few signs along Route 138 in Kingstown and word of mouth from fans of the association, said Paula Guida, a member of the association, who researched the story. of this event.
Tom Ladd, an artist whose work has been exhibited for several years, reflected on the beginnings of Guida’s detailed research.
“Tom remembered how insanely busy the sale was in the ’70s and’ 80s. At that time, the sale was limited to just three days and people were eager for it to open. The line to enter the building walked down the sidewalk, with customers patiently waiting for the opportunity to enter, ”she said.
Former board member Susan Shaw noted in the story how the event went from a few days to a few weeks.
While serving on the association’s board of directors, she concluded that it didn’t make sense to do all the hard work of setting up the sale for a 2-3 day event.
So thirty years ago, an inaccurate period of time in Guida’s history, the association decided to launch the sale on Black Friday and to continue it for three weeks. This provided the community with a greater opportunity to witness the sale with many repeat customer visits, a factor that helped increase sales and revenue.
This year’s sale
This year’s sale at the association’s headquarters and studios, 2587 Kingstown Road in Kingston, will feature more than 90 artists from across the state, Carland said.
On December 9, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the association will also sponsor a special meeting with many artists. More details can be found on the association’s website at southcountyart.org
Once again this year, products will range from everyday household items such as bowls, mugs, teapots and platters to sculptures, jewelry, woodcarvings and other more creative works of art, according to Carland.
The large and constantly changing quantity makes every buying experience when selling unique, she added. “Everything is one of a kind,” Carland said. She said that November 26, so-called “Black Friday”, and this weekend is the association’s busiest time for sale.
Carland says the planning and preparation for this event spans over a year, with a committee starting to organize the event almost 12 months before it actually happens.
All of the participating artists do so on a voluntary basis, taking on tasks such as decorating and setting up the sale to sale of their own pieces.
In 2019 – the last time the show was held – Lynn Moulton was chair of the committee. The sale first brought her to SCAA when she arrived in the area several years ago.
“I joined the South County Art Association,” she told The Independent two years ago, “to participate in the auction because I was a new artist and a friend of mine. said it was a great opportunity. “
“It’s kind of low pressure, but it’s a great community of supporting artists, so I joined the association, which was kind of a win-win for me because I joined this association of great artists and I learned a lot from them, ”said Moulton.
She called her first sale a good business experience and inspired her to take on a bigger role in the organization.
This year, due to lingering concerns over COVID-19 and colder weather that sends more people indoors, only around 35 people will be allowed inside at a time, she added.
Masks are mandatory for unvaccinated people and others should wear them if they feel more comfortable when they are indoors without them, she added.
Carland said the event’s 50th anniversary is a testament to its popularity and the Rhode Islanders’ continued interest in local crafts, which are the flagship pieces sold.
This is a feeling that was best explained many years ago by Jean Cotton, another member of the association.
“It’s like the best kept secret here. It’s like a gem, ”she said. “Once you start coming, it’s addicting. It’s easy to get hooked.