We are a week away from Thanksgiving, and that means holiday happenings are popping up to no avail. This year the Cameron Art Museum will be launching a new celebration, combining the art of the gingerbread house with the illumination of art via lantern-making. “Bread & lights,” a gingerbread and lantern festival, will kick off this weekend with the official Party in the Pines on Nov. 20 at CAM. Tickets are $45 and include entry into the exhibitions, live music, as well as hor d’oeuvres and desserts, with a cash bar. Folks will be able to get a first peek at the handmade gingerbread houses and lanterns.
We interviewed CAM’s Nan Pope, the museum shop manager, about the debut festival and fundraiser, and its slew of activities geared to take place over the next few weeks.
encore (e): Tell me how the festival came to be. This is its inaugural year, correct?
Nan Pope (NP): The bread & lights gingerbread and lantern festival is a new festival unique to Cameron Art Museum that celebrates art and creativity during the holiday season. The gingerbread element is familiar and was a very popular portion of last year’s festival. The Art of Illumination Exhibition highlights creatively crafted lanterns by both local and national artists.
Part of the purpose of the bread & lights festival is to showcase the process and creativity of artists, designers, bakers and performers, both professional and non-professional. Another focus is on memories—both creating memories, like the families who will make gingerbread houses together and attend the event together, or reflecting on memories. Memories will be represented throughout the festival, as seen with the Memory Tree, where visitors are invited to recognize a loved one on a paper dove. We’ll also have the Honor Tree recognizing military personnel on a star. It will culminate with the Floating Lantern Ceremony that takes place the final day of the festival, Sun. Dec. 6 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
e: I see artists made the lanterns—who exactly, and what materials are they made of?
NP: Yes, artists from coast to coast submitted lantern designs to our Art of Illumination Exhibition and Competition. The exhibition will feature approximately 35 festival-specific designs.
Artists Fritzi Huber, Virginia Wright-Frierson, Andy Cobb, and Maria Borghoff are only some of the local participants. The range of materials the artists are using include glass and handmade paper, along with recycled elements, such as tin and plastics. Unusual materials include woven picture frame wire and eyeglass lenses. The designs also range from geometric to organic—both hanging and standing lanterns—and in all sizes. The large Community Lantern, created by the public, will be hanging in the space, too.
e: A lantern-floating ceremony is scheduled; what will this entail?
NP: The ceremony bookends the festival and will be held on Sun., Dec. 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Museum staff has made lantern structures, and lantern sleeves will be available for $10 at the museum prior to and during the ceremony. Participants may adorn or personalize the lantern sleeves before they are fitted to the lanterns. Lantern launching will begin at around 5 p.m. The lanterns will be lighted with a candle flame and floated on our CAM pond until 7 p.m. Participants can choose to remember someone, some event or project, or make a wish or hope for the new year.
e: This is a showcase of bakers, too. Who all will participate and what exactly are they making? Are the treats edible to the public or just visually enticing?
NP: We have five categories of bakers: kids, teens, adults, professional bakers, and culinary students. Several school groups have entered, also Girl Scout troops, families, a pet bakery, and restaurants. Themes, determined by each participant, include a “Boo-Zoo” (haunted zoo), traditional houses, Hogsmeade Station, Ewok Village and a church. The entries, limited to 24-inches by 24-inches by 24-inches are a feast for the eyes, but they smell great too. No tasting—so it’s also a gluten-free event.
e: The gingerbread- and lantern-making is a competition. What do winners receive, and how are they judged? By a panel or the public?
NP: Gingerbread winners (top two in each category) receive a plaque and bragging rights. Honorary awards go to lantern winners; they will have future opportunities with the museum, such as doing an artist talk or workshop.
There will be ballots for both gingerbread and lanterns for the visiting public to vote on a people’s choice winner, which will be announced the final weekend of the festival.
e: Are entries made by kids, too?
NP: We are delighted at the response to our gingerbread competition from the kids and teens. It is heartening to hear them talk about their excitement in making their creations. For many of them, it is their first connection to the museum, and we want this to grow into a lifelong relationship.
We also offer the Jingle Bell Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus for the kids on Sat. Nov. 28, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. This popular event was held the past two years and was a sell-out both years. It is a special ticket (advance sales only, limited to 225 seats) and includes hot buffet breakfast, storytime, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and more.
e: Speaking of the breakfast, a slew of events are scheduled during the festival, starting with the kickoff party.
NP: Although we held both a kids lantern workshop and a community lantern workshop in October, we officially kick off the festival with a lively evening on Friday, Nov. 20 at our Party in the Pines, beginning at 6 p.m. We will unveil the lanterns and gingerbread, along with music in our reception hall, and the fun swing and rockabilly sounds of the Phantom Playboys keeping the party going ‘til 9 p.m.
e: Another specialty event is Sweet and Salty Gingerbread…
NP: We had a Sweet and Salty Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Workshop last year, which served over 200 visitors. We knew we wanted to bring it back to this year’s festival, and engage young ones and their parents to come to the museum to decorate cookies. We have cookies in the shape of ocean creatures and provide all of the icing, sparkles and everything that goes on top. We also provide aprons and chef hats for the young “cookie painters.” This year the wonderful folks at La Gemma are baking the cookies for us. It’s an exciting event and is included in the price of admission.
e: This is a fundraiser for CAM; how much money are you hoping to raise and what will it go toward?
NP: The Cameron Art Museum over the years has been growing its art education programming through the STEM to STEAM workshops that train educators how to integrate the arts into their instruction of other subjects, such as science, technology, engineering, and math. It is explored through a variety of techniques within the day-long workshops. The programming also includes a hands-on component for students.
Over the summer, children from Brigade Boys and Girls Club visited the CAM and learned about STEAM by making whirligigs from recycled bottles. These multi-day workshops for children gave them actual, physical experience with how integrating the arts in their school work actually clarifies what they are learning in the classroom.
It is our hope the community will come out to support these growing programs and enjoy all the bread & lights festival has to offer. We hope to raise more than $50,000 through all festival activities. All proceeds will benefit our growing educational mission.
e: Anything else readers should know?
NP: The two specially ticketed events, Party in the Pines and Jingle Bell Breakfast, and the general festival tickets all include admission to our current art exhibitions. Both exhibitions have had a wonderful reception with visitors. Interactive art exhibition, Response is the Medium, is located in the Hughes Wing and the first retrospective of Cuban-born American artist, Jose Bernal: Obra de Arte is on view in the Brown Wing. A schedule of community performers—harpists, ukulele choirs, brass bands and vocalists is available on the website www.breadandlights.org. The performances are included in the festival ticket. Tickets are available online, by phone and at the door. Tickets are good for any one day of the festival.