September Art Fair at Mellwood

voice3[1]On Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13, the Mellwood Arts Center will be the site of the seventh annual September Art Fair at Mellwood, a free event lasting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The fair was host to 130 booths last year, featuring work from both veteran and emerging artists alike with mediums including painting, sculpture, crafts, jewelry, sweaters, woodturning and more. Scooter Davidson, the leasing and marketing director of The Mellwood Arts Center, sits down with us to tell us more about the fair and what the community can anticipate for its seventh year.

What can guests expect from the September Art Fair at Mellwood?
Well, it is a juried artisan showcase. It’s a free family-friendly community event. We pride ourselves on new, quality juried artisans, and we are a very comfortable art fair. You don’t have to hike a million miles since we have plenty of free on-site parking.

voice4[1]We have music all day, and we have wonderful food. Outside, we have some fair food, and then inside, we have Le Gallo Rosso, which is just wonderful Italian-based food and pastries. The entire complex is open, so you can have fun at the fair and then go down to Mellwood Antiques & Interiors or just explore. You also can come up and see the artisan studios at work! So there’s a lot going on, but it’s all a lot of fun.

What’s the history of the event?
We had always wanted to have an art fair, but we just couldn’t fit it in, and the Ursuline Art Fair was always three weeks before St. James. And then when Ursuline said ‘We’re going to stop,’ we said, ‘We want to go! We will pick up that ball, and we will make it bigger and different but equal in terms of high-quality standards.’ And now we get 12 to 15 new artisans each year – both young, new students and adults who are just now coming into their own.

Where do these artists come from?
We have artisans from Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri and Kentucky, of course. A percentage of artisans who have studios here do participate, but what they’ve found is that it’s such a large fair – we had over 50,000 attendees last year over the two days – it’s just as flooded inside as it is outside.

voice1[1]How has the event changed over the seven years?
The show has changed in that it’s just been freshened up in a sense. We really sprinkle in the new artisans. They’re not off in their own section; they’re side-by-side with people who have done art shows for 20 years. The quality of goods is the same, they look the same, their excitement’s the same.

What do you hope the artists get out of the event?
We really hope to jump-start the careers of the new artisans wanting to be professional. If someone’s been struggling with their career, this gives them incredible exposure because there are a lot of shops in galleries, and those people like to come to our event because they know we always have people who are new and fresh. And then they see these artisans and what they’re creating and say, ‘I’d like to carry your things in my shop.’ This is really great because 90 percent of the artisans have smaller items or ancillary items that blend well with 2-D art and can give a gift gallery just the right thing and get them a little income.

What do you hope younger artists who are just starting out learn from this event?
I think it’s an appreciation for younger kids. One year, we had a lot of student tents that were sponsored, and we found that a lot of those students went on to be permanent artisans because they had such a great time here. And it’s really inspiring that if you’re 6, 7, 9, 10, 15, you can see that you can do this as your career. Start part-time, but you can do this. VT

For more information about the September Art Fair at Mellwood visit mellwoodartcenter.com or call 502.895.3650.

Courtesy photos.