The fourth Friday in October at the Anton Art Center on Macomb Place in Mount Clemens was the annual “countdown to Christmas Market,” a holiday fundraiser that helps the center fulfill its mission to enrich and inspire people of all ages through the arts.
This is “receiving” weekend. A dozen volunteers are on hand to log in craft and fine art deliveries from over 100 Michigan artists. The scene may seem a little chaotic to a newbie, but to the veteran volunteers, it’s a precision ballet choreographed by our Christmas Market committee. Some unforeseen glitches, like an elevator that declares itself on holiday, cause momentary consternation. However, an experienced volunteer quickly maneuvers around inconveniences and gets things back on track.
By late afternoon Sunday, when the crew departs the Art Center, every conceivable surface is filled with handmade pottery, delightful fantasy fabric sculptures and wonderful glass pieces that catch the light from the gallery windows. There are paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor photo prints and hand-painted tiles. In keeping with the season, whimsical Christmas characters, beautiful wreaths ready to offer a cheerful welcome to your holiday guests, along with festive centerpieces and wall hangings, seem to be doing their best to escape crates and boxes. Tasty jams and jellies offer temptation from the shelves of the “Pantry” room. Bird feeders, toad houses and fairy doors grace the garden corner. A prominent space is reserved for the annual Christmas Mini-Tree Silent Auction, stocked by donations from area community groups and individuals.
You may hear mutterings of “I should have worn my other shoes today” or “I think I’m getting too old for this” from some of the volunteers, but they say it with a laugh, as they do every year. They come back the next week to help decorate the building in this year’s Happy Holly Days theme and set up the Christmas Market displays that fill the entire first floor of the Art Center. Another volunteer joins Exhibitions Manager Stephanie Szmiot in the second floor gallery to hang the art for the Jim Pujdowski Retrospective exhibition, which includes his paintings, drawings and watercolors and will coincide with Christmas Market.
Another score of volunteers joins in once Christmas Market officially opens for Member and Sponsor Preview on Nov. 12 and to the public Nov. 13. They man the cashier’s table, wrap purchases, assist buyers on the market floor, restock displays and make visitors feel comfortable and welcome at the center. With the closing of the Art Center on Dec. 23, the market helpers are off duty to enjoy their own holiday celebrations. They will gather again in early January to do the less glamorous job of packing up the remaining arts and crafts, returning them to the artists and readying the exhibition area for upcoming shows.
All of the Anton Art Center volunteers join the staff, headed by Executive Director Phil Gilchrist, in hoping you will visit our Christmas Market to enrich your own Happy Holly Days!
The Anton Art Center Christmas Market 2015 will be open to the public Nov. 13 through Dec.23. Admission is free. The Anton Art Center is located at 125 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens, MI 48043. For more information about this event and the Jim Pujdowski Retrospective exhibit, visit www.theartcenter.org, call (586) 469-8666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maggi Gawel is a volunteer at the Anton Art Center.